The Miami Dolphins defensive tackle met with reporters for the first time since Quinnen Williams secured a four-year, $96 million contract extension from the Jets.
Williams and Wilkins entered the NFL in the same draft class, and it would have been superhuman for Wlkins not to feel at least a small pang of jealousy when he saw yet another one of his contemporaries cash in.
Wilkins’ time will soon come. He knows that, bare minimum, he’ll play under the franchise tag in 2024 (he would earn an estimated $20.9 million under that designation). And the Dolphins know that they’ll need to pay to play, particularly after Wilkins’ deft comments on the matter Saturday.
Did Christian Wilkins Send the Miami Dolphins a Message?
Wilkins took the “control what I can control” tact when asked again about whether his contract situation weighs on his mind.
He added: “I definitely feel like I’ve done enough and done a lot to earn a new deal and a new contract; but again, I’m just focusing on ball and improving every day and just giving my all to this organization and hopefully they’ll give their all back to me.”
That’s pretty standard stuff. Wilkins is right. He’s done more than enough to warrant a high-dollar deal. The question isn’t if he’ll get a long-term extension rich with guaranteed money, but when — and from whom.
And as Wilkins made a passing allusion to Saturday, the Dolphins and their fans should know that he is going to seek what he believes he’s worth.
Asked to comment on defensive tackles of today getting paid like quarterbacks of yesterday, Wilkins said something revealing if one reads between the lines.
“I just love it for the evolution of the game and how far we’ve come as a position,” he said. “Again, like I said, I’m big on respecting the game, so it’s my job to carry that torch for those Warren Sapps, those Vince Wilforks — all those guys that I grew up watching and learning from. I have a responsibility, so I love what we’ve been able to do as a position for the game, and hopefully, we’ll continue to do that.”
Wilkins naming Sapp is fascinating. The legendary interior defender in 1998 signed what was, at the time, the most lucrative contract ever for a defensive player.
And, in Wilkins’ own words, he feels “a responsibility” to “carry that torch.”
That doesn’t sound like someone prepared to take a haircut to stay in Miami — a complicating factor for a Dolphins team that surely wants to keep their defense’s heart and soul but is nearly $50 million over the cap in 2024.
“Christian is, since I’ve been here, he’s been one way. I truly believe in that way, he embodies what I expect for our team, each individual to be, on a day-to-day basis for you to have success,” Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel said Saturday.
“So how do you categorize that? That’s an important part of the team. I promise you this. If Christian Wilkins came out to practice and was like, ehh (shrugs shoulders), we’d have problems. So as teammates, you end up depending on each other for certain things that you know you can count on. Energy, strain, relentlessness, these are all things that if you’re trying to be a good team, you want to embody.”