Heaps: The Seahawks should trade for CB Xavien Howard to get the most out of Jamal Adams

Jun 28, 2021, 12:20 PM
Seahawks Dolphins Xavien Howard...
Dolphins cornerback Xavier Howard led the NFL with 10 interceptions in 2020. (Getty)

What makes Seahawks strong safety Jamal Adams special is that he contributes in a way players at his position rarely do – he gets to the quarterback.

Which big-name free agents should Seahawks target, avoid?

The thing about that is Adams, whose 9.5 sacks in 12 games last year set an NFL record for most sacks by a defensive back in a single season, has to blitz in order to pressure opposing QBs. And that leaves the Seahawks’ other defensive backs in a vulnerable spot.

“When Jamal Adams is brought on a blitz, it puts more pressure on the back end (of the defense) and in your coverage to be more stable,” said 710 ESPN Seattle’s Jake Heaps.

As the former Seahawks QB continued to explain, it means Seattle’s DBs have to utilize more man-to-man coverage as opposed to the zone coverages head coach Pete Carroll tends to favor.

That turns into a personnel issue for Seattle.

“When you look at the Seahawks’ cornerback room, I don’t think that you can say definitively that you can feel confident that this group can hold up at a high level in man-to-man coverage,” Heaps said.

So how can Seattle maximize Adams going forward? Heaps said on Friday’s edition of Jake and Stacy that they need to trade for a lockdown corner – and maybe not the most obvious one they could go after.

“If they want to continue a high percentage of blitzes (with Adams), there’s one guy that I think they need to go target,” Heaps said. “While Stephon Gilmore is somebody that really intrigues me for this organization to bring in – he is a good man-to-man coverage corner, he’s a guy that is instinctual in zone coverage, and I do believe that he could transfer over to the Seahawks’ scheme – I’m also concerned about what he did last year. His play declined after a defensive MVP year (in 2019), and I am just nervous that if you bring on Stephon Gilmore, you are getting him on the downslope of his career.

“How about trading for someone that is on the uptick of his career and that is currently upset with his organization and is reportedly (coming up) in trade talks? And that is Miami Dolphins corner Xavien Howard.”

A two-time Pro Bowler coming off his first All-Pro season, Howard made 10 interceptions in 2020, making him the NFL interceptions leader for the second time in the last three years (he had seven picks in 2018). The soon-to-be 28 year old also led the NFL with 20 passes defensed last year.

“If you want to lean into Jamal Adams’ strength, why not go and get one of the best man-to-man corners in the game?” asked Heaps. “Somebody that is in their prime, that could be a lock-down corner, a guy who truly can find the ball, get their hands on the ball, turnovers, takeaways – what Pete Carroll seeks after. If you’re going to make a splash move, why not go truly all-in and go after Xavien Howard?”

Details on Xavien Howard

• Howard signed a five-year extension with the Dolphins during the 2019 offseason worth $75.25 million, per Spotrac. He is set to make $12.075 million in 2021 and carry a salary cap hit of $13.5 million. His deal goes through 2024 but has a potential out after this season.

• The Dolphins selected Howard in the second round (38th overall) of the 2016 NFL Draft out of Baylor.

• Howard made the second of his league-high 10 interceptions last season in a Week 4 game against the Seahawks.

• Howard is currently holding out from the Dolphins, reportedly in pursuit of a new contract that the Dolphins are hesitant to give him.

To hear Heaps’ full thoughts on Adams and Howard, listen to the Four-Down Territory segment in the podcast at this link or in the player below.

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Heaps: The Seahawks should trade for CB Xavien Howard to get the most out of Jamal Adams