The Miami Dolphins‘ Christian Wilkins is the best defensive player no one north of Broward is talking about. He is having a spectacular season but hardly registered in the Pro Bowl conversation.
Perhaps that changed Sunday after a ridiculous game on national television.
Wilkins was a one-man wrecking machine Sunday against the Green Bay Packers — and probably upped his asking price ahead of what should be a lucrative free agency.
Christian Wilkins Is Miami Dolphins’ Best Defender
Wilkins is in Year 4 of his rookie deal — which means he’s still of great value. Wilkins is under contract through 2023, as the Dolphins picked up his fifth-year option, which guarantees him $10.8 million in base salary next year.
That contract puts the Dolphins over the cap in 2023. They’ll need to make some moves simply to be compliant ahead of the league’s new year, which begins on March 15.
By extending Wilkins, they can bring down his 2023 cap figure — and lock down their most dependable and disruptive player on the defensive side of the ball.
Wilkins deserved a new contract before Sunday. He entered the Dolphins-Packers game ranked third among AFC defensive tackles in quarterback hurries (6). Wilkins was by far the team leader in tackles for loss (with 14 entering Week 16 — double the number of any other Dolphins player).
But Wilkins’ impact on the game goes far beyond the stat sheet. Sunday was a reminder of that.
He was simply unblockable in the first half, even if the stats didn’t reflect it: Just two tackles (none for a loss), zero sacks or quarterback hits, and one pass defenses. But put on the tape, and he was dynamic.
On his first tackle, Wilkins stood up A.J. Dillon for a one-yard gain on second-and-3. The Dolphins’ defense would go on the force a turnover on downs. On his second, he chased down Romeo Doubs on a wide receiver screen, dropping him for a gain of just two on third-and-10.
Wilkins finished with five tackles and also knocked down multiple passes at the line of scrimmage Sunday.
What cannot be quantified: His emotional impact on the team. He’s the defense’s biggest trash talker — and chief antagonist. Opposing quarterbacks can’t stand him. (Does he always keep his hands to himself at the bottom of the pile? Absolutely not.)
Put it all together, and Wilkins — a former first-round pick — is exactly the type of player the Dolphins need to keep.
Will he come cheap? No way. Spotrac estimates that Wilkins’ market value is $67.1 million over four years. That $16.7 million AAV would make him the eighth-highest-paid defensive tackle in football.
He deserves that respect.