Miami Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard in action during the first...

Miami Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard in action during the first half of an NFL football game, Dec. 31, 2023, in Baltimore. The Dolphins released cornerback Howard on Wednesday, March 13, 2024, parting with their longest-tenured player. Credit: AP/Terrance Williams

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — The Miami Dolphins released cornerback Xavien Howard on Wednesday, parting with their longest-tenured player.

Howard had 331 tackles and 95 passes deflected in eight seasons with the Dolphins, who selected him at No. 38 in the 2016 NFL draft.

The 30-year-old Howard is a four-time Pro Bowler and was a first-team All-Pro in 2020, when he had a league-high 10 interceptions and 20 passes defensed. Only Denver's Justin Simmons has more interceptions (30) than Howard's 29 since 2016. That number is tied for fourth most in Dolphins history.

The Dolphins informed Howard late last month that he would be released at the start of the new league year, which began at 4 p.m. EDT Wednesday. General manager Chris Grier said it wasn't an easy decision.

“That was a tough one,” Grier said at the NFL combine last month. “Xavien and I had a long conversation because he was the second player I drafted here in 2016. He and I have been through a lot of stuff here and we were just talking about how proud I was from early when he first got here. ... We had a long discussion and he understood it was a business decision. At the end of the day, we just felt it was right for him to have this opportunity for his agent to go see what’s out there for him.”

Grier said the team was open to bringing the veteran back, but Howard said on “The Joe Rose Show” on WQAM-AM that door is closed.

“In this business, you know how it goes,” Howard said. “It's been eight years, and I've seen the business side of it so many times. Me and my agent talked about it before we signed our last deal that that's how it was gonna happen, and it ended up happening. So I wasn't surprised at all.”

Howard signed a five-year extension in 2022 after he had previously requested a trade. He had a $25.9 million cap hit in 2024 and is designated a post-June 1 cut, which will save Miami $18.5 million in cap space with about $23 million in dead cap money.

Howard's production declined the past two seasons as he dealt with injuries. He played through groin injuries in 2022 and was limited to 13 games in 2023 because of hip and foot injuries.

The Dolphins have also lost standout defensive tackle Christian Wilkins (Las Vegas), safety Brandon Jones (Denver) and linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel (Minnesota) since the start of free agency.

Miami has also released linebacker Jerome Baker and defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah.

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