Christian Wilkins won’t get Dolphins franchise tag in intriguing NFL free agency twist

In a surprising turn of events, the Miami Dolphins are not anticipated to use the franchise tag on defensive tackle Christian Wilkins, as reported by ESPN on Sunday. This decision comes after earlier indications during the offseason suggested that the team intended to keep him off the market with a one-year contract.

With the NFL’s deadline for teams to use their franchise tag set for Tuesday, Wilkins, 28, is now poised to become a sought-after free agent. He is coming off the most outstanding season of his five-year career, achieving career-highs with 23 quarterback hits and nine sacks. Over the last three seasons, Wilkins has started in all 51 games.

While the former first-round pick has not received All-Pro or Pro Bowl honors, it is expected that he will seek a contract that reflects his performance, potentially placing him near the top of the market. Last season, four defensive tackles, including Quinnen Williams, Jeffery Simmons, DaRon Payne, and Dexter Lawrence, all secured four-year contracts worth at least $87.5 million.

In this year’s offseason tagging, Bengals receiver Tee Higgins and Chiefs cornerback L’Jarius Sneed are predicted to be the first two players to receive franchise tags. Sneed has reportedly expressed willingness to consider a trade if an extension cannot be agreed upon with the Chiefs, who prioritize extending defensive tackle Chris Jones. The tag value for defensive tackles stands at $22.1 million.

Despite the Dolphins being $31 million over the $255.4 million salary cap, they have until March 13 to bring their cap situation under control, according to General manager Chris Grier, speaking at the NFL combine last week, conveyed an interest in retaining Wilkins, stating, “I think all options are on the table for us. I’m just being very transparent with it. He has earned [a contract]. He’s had a great season. So we’ll see what happens here as we talk over the next couple of weeks.”

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