Getty Images

The Miami Dolphins' star-studded defensive backfield of four-time Pro Bowl cornerback Xavien Howard and seven-time Pro Bowl cornerback Jalen Ramsey is no more.

The Dolphins released Howard, who had three years remaining on his five-year, $90 million contract, at the start of the NFL's new league year. The team released him at the start of the new league year on March 13 and still designated him as a post-June 1 cut to hit maximum savings. 

Miami will collect $18.5 million in salary cap savings by designating Howard as a post-June 1 release, according to the Sun Sentinel. In contrast, the Dolphins would have only save $2.8 million if they had cut Howard before June 1. However, that cap relief doesn't hit until June 1, meaning Miami will have to carry Howard's full cap charge for the current season until June.

Howard has already been replaced in Miami by Kendall Fuller, but he is still looking for his own new home. 

Howard's 29 career interceptions since he entered the league as a second-round pick of the Dolphins (38th overall) in 2016 are the second most across the last eight seasons, trailing only Denver Broncos Pro Bowl safety Justin Simmons' 30. His best year came in 2020 when he led the league with 10 interceptions, which earned him his only First-Team All-Pro nod. Howard's four Pro Bowl selections in a Dolphins uniform are tied for the second most in franchise history by a defensive back, trailing only safety Jake Scott's five in the 1970's.

With Howard still on the market, here is a look at five potential free agency landing spots for the cornerback, who turns 31 on July 4. 

Houston Texans

During an appearance on The OGs Podcast, hosted by former Miami Heat players Udonis Haslem and Mike Miller, Howard said he would like to play for the Texans. "I would love to do that. Especially back at home, the crib," Howard said. "I wouldn't say I've always been a Houston Texans fan, but this offseason, I'm a Houston Texans fan. I've had it tatted on me. I even got the Houston Rockets and the Texans (logos) tatted on me."

Howard even said he'd be willing to take a pay cut because the Texans are a contender. "I'd rather take a pay cut to go to a team that's going to go further in the playoffs," Howard said. "I got my money and stuff like that. I'm to the point, like, 'How much money do you really need?'

"My goal is always to try to win a Super Bowl. Don't let the money get in the way of winning a Super Bowl. Some people get paid, and some people win a Super Bowl. Some people do both. You do both, you're different. I want to be different. I want to win a Super Bowl now. I already got paid, so now (a Super Bowl) is what I'm looking forward to."

The Texans are trying to win now after they were able to win the AFC South and reached the AFC divisional round in quarterback C.J. Stroud's first season in which he earned Offensive Rookie of the Year honors. They had a couple foundational defensive pieces already in 2023 Defensive Rookie of the Year edge rusher Will Anderson Jr. and 2022 third overall pick cornerback Derek Stingley Jr., whose five interceptions were tied for the fourth most in the NFL last season, and they added Danielle Hunter, Denico Autry, and Tim Settle to their defense this offseason. Howard could put things over the top.

Detroit Lions

The NFC runner-ups are in a great spot as their rebuild is now ahead of schedule with the team reaching the conference championship round with rookies like running back Jahmyr Gibbs, tight end Sam LaPorta and safety Brian Branch playing key roles. However, Detroit's secondary could still use some work as it was below league average in pass defense (336.1 passing yards per game allowed, 19th in NFL). Howard can add some needed experience to what's overall a young defensive backfield. 

The Lions also recently released cornerback Cam Sutton, who is wanted by police in Florida in connection with a domestic battery incident. 

Washington Commanders

The 2023 Commanders were the worst defense in football. They ranked dead last in scoring defense (30.5 points per game allowed), total defense (388.9 total yards per game allowed), pass defense (262.2 passing yards per game allowed), passing touchdowns allowed (39) and passer rating allowed (105.7). 

Cornerback remains a dire need for Washington. Commanders cornerback Benjamin St-Juste allowed the second-most passing yards by a single player in the NFL last season, 872 yards to be exact. Emmanuel Forbes, the team's 16th overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, struggled immensely with the transition from playing in the SEC at Mississippi State in college to the NFL last season. Washington benched him from Weeks 12-16. The team's only notable CB signings this offseason have been Michael Davis and Noah Igbinoghene

Howard would walk into Washington as its top corner immediately. New head coach Dan Quinn's Dallas Cowboys defenses thrived upon getting takeaways (93, led the NFL from 2021-2023), specifically from interceptions (59, led the NFL from 2021-2023). He will certainly want massive upgrades at the cornerback position, and Howard could be the start of that for the Commanders this offseason. 

Las Vegas Raiders

The Raiders underwent a significant defensive turnaround last season following the firing of head Josh McDaniels and the promotion of linebackers coach Antonio Pierce to interim head coach. Las Vegas led the NFL in scoring defense (16.0) under Pierce from Week 9 through the conclusion of the 2023 regular season.

However, they still ranked 22nd in passing yards per game allowed (226.0) under Pierce last season, highlighting their secondary as an area for improvement entering his first season as the team's full-time head coach. One of the Raiders' starting cornerbacks, Amik Robertson, signed with Detroit, opening a spot that Howard could slide into. Vegas splashed the pot for Christian Wilkins already in free agency, but could add another former Dolphin by inking Howard. 

Minnesota Vikings

The Minnesota Vikings defense showed significant improvement under defensive coordinator Brian Flores in his first season at the controls. Minnesota allowed 25.1 points per game in 2022, ranking 28th out of 32 teams. Under Flores, that number dropped to 21.3 points per game, good for 13th in the league.

However, they still struggled against the pass (234.5 passing yards per game, 24th in the league), and a lot of their success can be attributed to Flores' schematic smoke and mirrors. Flores had Minnesota blitzing at a league-high rate of 50.7% in attempt to combat their lack of pass rush (32.1% quarterback pressures rate, 27th in NFL) outside of Pro Bowl edge rusher Danielle Hunter, who ranked top 10 in the NFL in pressures (80, 10th) and sacks (16.5, fifth). 

Hunter is gone, replaced by Jonathan Greenard and Andrew Van Ginkel. The Vikings could use some veteran savvy on the back end of their defense, and Flores coached Howard for three seasons as his head coach from 2019-2021. A reunion in the Twin Cities would make sense for both parties.