‘Major Player’ Emerges for Dolphins DT Christian Wilkins After Worrisome Update

Dolphins' Christian Wilkins expected to hit open market in NFL free agency.

Getty The Miami Dolphins might not franchise tag defensive tackle Christian Wilkins after all.

When Miami Dolphins general manager Chris Grier spoke at the NFL combine, fans left the chat feeling confident that star defensive tackle Christian Wilkins would be retained.

On March 3, however, ESPN NFL insider Jeremy Fowler offered a much more worrisome update on contract discussions between the two parties.

“While Miami’s stance is that all options are on the table for defensive tackle Christian Wilkins, several league sources say he probably won’t be franchise-tagged,” Fowler revealed. “That would put a big-time tackle who had 63 tackles and nine sacks in 2023 on the market.”

Fellow ESPN insider Dan Graziano added that the Houston Texans could be a “major player” for Wilkins later in the article, noting that “the Texans seem to be focused on upgrading their defense in a few key spots,” with the “biggest” need being defensive tackle.

Fowler agreed, pointing out that Houston has “ample cap space” to get a Wilkins deal done with quarterback C.J. Stroud on a rookie contract. The latter also discussed the Cleveland Browns as a team that he could see bidding on Wilkins, acknowledging that “several teams in the mix” for the integral Dolphins defender.

Revisiting Dolphins GM Chris Grier’s Comments on Christian Wilkins at NFL Combine

While addressing the media at the NFL combine, Grier told reporters that “all options are on the table for us” when it comes to retaining Wilkins — including the franchise tag.

“I’m going to meet here with Christian’s agent this week,” he explained. “David [Mulugheta] and I have always had good conversations. I’m just being very transparent with it. He has earned [the right to be a free agent]. He’s had a great season. So, we’ll see what happens here as we talk over the next couple of weeks.”

In terms of Wilkins doing enough to “solidify” an extension, Grier stated the following:

Like I’ve mentioned before, we’ve had conversations, and we were close on a deal last offseason. It didn’t come together. For us, we know who Christian is — the type of person and player and what he brings to the organization. So for us, at the end of the day, it’s not what he had to do as we were talking and trying to build a team and put together a roster of trying to work together and try to find something that was fair to him and us. At the end of the day, we tried, and the agent acknowledged it was a very fair offer and we felt good. So, we’ll see where that takes us this offseason.

At the time on February 28, Grier also voiced that he believes the Dolphins have the resources to either sign Wilkins to a long-term deal or franchise tag him if needed. Over the Cap lists Miami at approximately $31.64 million in the negative, which ranks second worst in the NFL behind the Buffalo Bills.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter Echoes Christian Wilkins Report

It wasn’t just Fowler that shared the belief that Wilkins will indeed hit the open market in 2024. ESPN insider Adam Schefter followed up on his colleague on March 3.

“All signs continue to point to Dolphins DT Christian Wilkins not being tagged and being allowed to become a true unrestricted free agent,” Schefter weighed in. “Dolphins say they’re still mulling options, others expect Wilkins to hit free agency.”

Considering Miami’s financial situation and Wilkins’ importance to this defense, this bit of combine chatter is a scary turn of events for the Dolphins fanbase entering a win-now offseason.

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