Latest on Christian Wilkins pushes him away from Miami Dolphins, links DT to 2 AFC teams

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The Miami Dolphins have an important decision to make in the next couple of days, as the deadline on whether to franchise tag Christian Wilkins or not is coming.

Based on the defensive tackle’s production last season, there is an argument that he deserves the tag. Unfortunately, the Dolphins are facing a tricky cap situation that may prevent them from tagging him.

According to several league sources, he probably won’t be tagged, and the team could lose him to potential suitors like the Houston Texans or Cleveland Browns.

“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,” wrote Jeremy Fowler of ESPN. “That would put a big-time tackle who had 63 tackles and nine sacks in 2023 on the market.

“Houston is intriguing here. The Texans have ample cap space, a quarterback early on a rookie deal and a playoff roster. There would be several teams in the mix, though. The Browns are always good for a splash or two, for instance. Would they strengthen an already stout defense with the versatile DT?”

The 2023 season saw Miami allow 23.0 points per game, which ranked 22nd in the league.

One of the bright spots, though, was Wilkins, who recorded a career-high in sacks (nine). In addition, he forced a fumble once, recovered two fumbles and defended two passes. He nearly appeared in his first-ever Pro Bowl but ended up being named an alternate.

The Dolphins are entering the 2024 offseason with the need to address the fact that they are more than $30 million over the salary cap. With the franchise tag for defensive tackles expected to cost $22 million, the team might not be able to afford to put the tag on its first-round pick from 2019.

Of course, there is still the possibility of signing Wilkins to a long-term contract. However, that is easier said than done, especially since the parties couldn’t come to an agreement on an extension last year, with the Clemson University product betting big on himself by playing out the final year of his contract.

Miami might also have some competition for Wilkins’ services, with the Texans and Browns being just two of the organizations that could register interest in the 28-year-old.

Only time will tell if the Dolphins use the tag for just the 10th time in franchise history. The last player they tagged was Mike Gesicki in 2022. The tight end eventually left the team for the New England Patriots in 2023.

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Orel is a proud contributor of Dolphin Nation. He started following the league in the late 1990s and was able to watch Dan Marino's final playing years.