4 teams that need to go all-out for Christian Wilkins off market

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The Kansas City Chiefs have made Chris Jones the highest-paid defensive tackle in NFL history. Here are four teams that should give free-agent defensive tackle Christian Wilkins a lucrative contract.

Minnesota Vikings v Miami Dolphins

When it comes to how valued some positions are in the NFL, defensive tackle has gotten pretty rich. Aaron Donald of the Los Angeles Rams set the standard in terms of earning lucrative contracts. Now, young up-and-coming stars like Quinnen Williams, Dexter Lawrence, and Jeffery Simmons have all received contracts with total values of over $90 million.

On Saturday, the bar was set once again for defensive tackles. The Kansas City Chiefs and Chris Jones agreed to terms on a five-year contract, which includes $95 million fully guaranteed. On an annual basis, Jones will earn approximately $32 million, officially making him the richest defensive tackle in NFL history.

With Jones setting the market, that means fellow top-tier defensive tackles will have the chance to cash-in in the very near future. Look no further than Christian Wilkins, who is set to hit unrestricted free agency after not receiving a tag from the Miami Dolphins. It’s odd that a contender like the Dolphins would allow Wilkins to walk in free agency, but they are still over the salary cap threshold as of this writing.

Wilkins is coming off a 2023 season in which he recorded 40 tackles, 34 defensive stops, 34 quarterback hurries, 17 quarterback hits, 10 sacks, and one forced fumble in 18 games, including the Wild Card Round matchup vs. the Kansas City Chiefs.

Here are four teams that need to go all-out to sign Wilkins in free agency.

4. Houston Texans

What a turn-around for the Houston Texans. After holding the second-worst record in the NFL in 2022, the Texans won the AFC South with a 10-7 record in their first year with DeMeco Ryans as head coach and C.J. Stroud as quarterback. The Texans even picked up a playoff win, beating the Cleveland Browns 45-14 in the Wild Card Round.

The Texans are in a position in which they have a young quarterback who was in serious consideration for the NFL MVP in just his first season. Now is the time for the Texans to bolster their roster to help make it to the Super Bowl for the first time in their franchise’s history.

As of this writing, the Texans have $62.9 million in cap space. That gives them plenty of room to sign some difference-makers on both sides of the line of scrimmage. It just so happens that the Texans have a need for a defensive tackle, as Sheldon Rankins is set to become an unrestricted free agent.

Wilkins is an immediate upgrade for the Texans. Just imagine Wilkins rushing at the quarterback in the interior of the line of scrimmage, with Will Anderson Jr. attacking off the edge. This would be a great move for Houston.

3. Chicago Bears

The Chicago Bears are the most intriguing team in the NFL this offseason. That’s mostly because everyone is waiting to see what they do at quarterback, whether it’s keeping Justin Fields or using the No. 1 overall pick on USC’s Caleb Williams. Whatever they decide to do, they will have a ton of cap space to work with.

Before this past season’s trade deadline, the Bears’ defense was struggling, as they didn’t have a player who could effectively get to and put pressure on the quarterback. That all changed when they acquired defensive end Montez Sweat from the Washington Commanders and immediately signed him to a four-year, $98 million contract. The defense drastically improved as a result.

Even with the addition of Sweat, the Bears still have some work to do on the defense. In 2023, the Bears defense allowed 324.2 yards of offense (12th-fewest in NFL) and 22.3 points per game (13th-most in NFL).

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The Bears happen to have an opening at the starting defensive tackle spot. Justin Jones is an unrestricted free agent. With $63.6 million in cap space as of this writing, the Bears are easily in a position to make a run at Wilkins to further improve the defense and be able to contend in the NFC North.

2. Minnesota Vikings

We stay in the NFC North division. and list another team that should make a serious run at Christian WIlkins. However, this team has a link to Wilkins. We are speaking about the Minnesota Vikings.

After the 2022 season, the Vikings fired defensive coordinator Ed Donatell after an embarrassing Wild Card Round loss to the New York Giants. Coming in to replace him was Brian Flores, the former Miami Dolphins head coach. Flores earned his first head coaching gig from Miami in 2019, and the very first draft pick that Flores made was, you guessed it, Wilkins.

Flores was brought into Minnesota by head coach Kevin O’Connell to fix a defense that had trouble stopping opposing offenses. In 2023, the Vikings allowed 333.2 yards of offense (16th-fewest in the NFL) and 21.3 points per game (14th-fewest in NFL).

Minnesota’s defensive line is set to see edge rushers Danielle Hunter and Johnathan Bullard leave via free agency. While the team does have Dean Lowry and Harrison Phillips as their starting defensive tackles, Wilkins easily surpasses either of them.

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According to Aaron Wilson of KPRC 2 Houston, the Vikings are expected to have “strong and mutual interest” in Wilkins. ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler ($) says “the Brian Flores connection in Minnesota is one to watch.”

The Vikings are already listed in reports as contenders to sign Wilkins. With $40.9 million in cap space to work with as of this writing, they should get a deal done.

1. Detroit Lions

The Detroit Lions were two quarters away from reaching the Super Bowl for the first time in franchise history. But their 24-7 lead disappeared in the first half disappeared, and the San Francisco 49ers came back to win 34-31. It was a brutal way for the Lions’ season to end, as there were so many bright spots throughout the 2023 season that showed that they were finally turning things around. Unfortunately, it ended in heartbreaking fashion

While that may be the case, the Lions have the chance to build a super team if they so choose. With the 2024 league year approaching on Wednesday, March 13, the Lions have $53.3 million in cap space at their disposal. They could provide more pass-catchers for quarterback Jared Goff. Or, they could give defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn someone who can disrupt the interior of the opposing offensive line.

Detroit’s starting defensive tackles entering the new league year are Tyson Alualu and Alim McNeil. Detroit’s defense as a whole thrived in stopping the run, allowing just 88.8 rushing yards per game, which was the second-fewest in the NFL. That”s not bad. Now, imagine adding Christian Wilkins to it.

Not to mention, the Lions could add Wilkins to pair next to star edge rusher Aidan Hutchinson, who recorded 79 quarterback hurries, 28 quarterback hits, and 14 sacks in 20 games played.

If the Lions want to help put themselves over the edge as the favorites to represent the NFC in Super Bowl 59 in New Orleans, th

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