The 2019 draft produced several long-running partnerships between defensive tackles and the teams that chose them in the first round. Four of the six DTs selected in Round 1 that year signed extensions this offseason. Quinnen Williams, Ed Oliver, Dexter Lawrence and Jeffery Simmons have new deals in hand. Jerry Tillery did not work out for the Chargers, but he was the only first-round DT from the ’19 class not to negotiate an extension this offseason. Christian Wilkins spent months discussing a deal with the Dolphins, but the sides have tabled matters to 2024, when the former No. 13 overall pick will be on the cusp of free agency.
Guarantees represented a sticking point for Wilkins, but Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald offers that the Dolphins appeared to be skittish about authorizing a Williams-level deal for a player without much in the way of sack production. Wilkins’ camp undoubtedly pushed for terms in the Williams-Lawrence-Simmons-Daron Payne neighborhood ($22.5-$24MM per year), as the Clemson alum led all DTs with 98 tackles last season. Wilkins, who produced 89 tackles in 2021, has never topped 4.5 sacks in a season. He has also eclipsed seven QB hits in just one of his four NFL slates (13 in 2021). Wilkins has not requested a trade, per Jackson, and the Dolphins — despite trade interest emerging — are not interested in moving him.
The Dolphins will have the option of franchise-tagging Wilkins next year. The Commanders used the tag as a bridge to a Payne deal, but the D-tackle tag number will likely come in north of $20MM in 2024. The Dolphins are currently projected to be $27MM over the cap next year (29th in the league), though much will obviously change between now and then. Here is the latest from the AFC East:
- It would make sense if right guard Robert Hunt was in the Dolphins’ extension plans, but the contract-year blocker said (via Jackson) he is not aware of any talks transpiring. Hunt joins a few notable guards on track to become 2024 free agents. Jonah Jackson (Lions), Damien Lewis (Seahawks) and Michael Onwenu (Patriots) are also multiyear starters in the final year of their rookie deals. Only Jackson has been known to have held extension talks with his respective team.
- Carl Lawson is expected to make his 2023 debut in Week 2, Robert Saleh said (via the New York Post’s Brian Costello). The veteran defensive end missed most of training camp due to back tightness, and the Jets held him out of their Week 1 Bills matchup. Lawson, who took a pay cut this offseason, totaled seven sacks and 24 QB hits (both totals second among Jets) last season.
- The Jets also worked out a few offensive linemen this week. Cameron Erving, Dennis Kelly, D.J. Fluker and Rashaad Coward auditioned for the team, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. None have joined the squad. The Jets have Billy Turner and Max Mitchell slotted as their backup tackles. Rookie fourth-rounder Carter Warren is on short-term IR. Starters Duane Brown and Mekhi Becton, who each spent their offseason rehabbing injuries, logged limited practices Wednesday.
- Tyquan Thornton is starting a second straight season on IR, but the Boston Herald’s Doug Kyed notes the Patriots do not expect the 2022 second-rounder to miss much time. A shoulder injury sent Thornton to IR. That said, Thornton was not pushing to be a starter during his second training camp. The Baylor product, who suffered a broken collarbone during his first NFL camp, was likely “significantly” behind JuJu Smith-Schuster, Kendrick Bourne and DeVante Parker before his latest injury, Kyed adds.
- Mike McDaniel said (via Jackson) special teams duty led to third-round rookie Devon Achane being a healthy scratch in Week 1. Raheem Mostert, Salvon Ahmed and rookie UDFA Chris Brooks, who holds a bigger ST role than Achane, were Miami’s active backs in their Week 1 win.
- The draft choice the Patriots sent to the Vikings for O-lineman Vederian Lowe is the Raiders’ 2024 sixth-rounder, Mike Reiss of ESPN.com tweets. New England acquired that pick in exchange for O-lineman Justin Herron last summer.