Dolphins Will Not Use Franchise Tag On Christian Wilkins

MARCH 4: Confirming the direction Sunday’s report pointed this situation in, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport notes Wilkins will not be tagged tomorrow. Unless an eleventh-hour agreement can be reached after the deadline but before the new league year, therefore, Wilkins will reach free agency.

MARCH 3: Even considering the recent cap spike, the Dolphins are still more than $31MM over the new NFL spending limit with 10 days left in the 2023 league year. That will create challenges, and it will impact the team’s ability to retain its top free agent.

Although GM Chris Grier said a Christian Wilkins franchise tag would be on the table,’s Jeremy Fowler notes the team is unlikely to cuff the five-year defensive tackle. As it stands, Wilkins appears barely a week away from free agency. After making strides as a pass rusher, the former first-round pick would be poised to do quite well on the open market.

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This would make Wilkins one of the top free agents available, and if the Ravens follow through with their likely Justin Madubuike tag and the Chiefs can complete a Chris Jones deal before the legal tampering period, the Miami-based D-tackle’s free agency stock would be set to skyrocket. The Dolphins and Wilkins negotiated for months in 2023, but no extension agreement came out of the talks. That led to the Clemson alum playing out his rookie contract, separating him from the other high-end DTs from the 2019 first round.

The Dolphins continue to mull their options, per’s Adam Schefter, but the veteran reporter indicates a tag is not expected. Three of Wilkins’ 2019 first-round DT peers — Jeffery Simmons, Quinnen Williams and ex-Clemson teammate Dexter Lawrence — signed big-ticket deals worth between $22.5MM and $24MM per year. With the cap now nearly $31MM north of its 2023 place, Wilkins surely could approach this price range.

Some hesitancy on Miami’s part regarding a long-term deal is believed to have stemmed from Wilkins’ prior lack of sack production. The interior defender made a notable effort on this front last season, tallying a career-high nine sacks. That number bettered his previous single-season best by 4.5. Wilkins, 28, has been one of the NFL’s top run-defending DTs in recent years as well. The Dolphins, however, have made other commitments up front. They extended Bradley Chubb shortly after trading for him in 2022, and DT Zach Sieler signed a new deal last year. That complicates a Wilkins South Florida future.

Trade interest emerged for Wilkins late last summer, and the Dolphins are again implementing a new defensive scheme thanks to another coordinator change. With Tua Tagovailoa squarely on the extension radar and the likes of Jaylen Waddle and Jaelan Phillips potentially behind the QB in the payment queue, the Dolphins may be prepared to pass on paying Wilkins now. A bidding war would be set to commence in that event.

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