Wilkins left the Dolphins as one of the best defensive tackles in team history

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Christian Wilkins’ departure from the Miami Dolphins became official Thursday morning, the day after he said his goodbyes in an Instagram post.

Wilkins leaving to join the Las Vegas Raiders on a reported four-year deal worth $110 million will go down as one of the biggest involving a Dolphins free agent, not just because of the dollar amount (the highest) but because of Wilkins’ stature as a player.

But exactly where does it rank among the most significant Dolphins free agent losses ever? And where does Wilkins actually rank among all-time Dolphins defensive tackles? And while we’re at it, how about, where does Wilkins rank among Dolphins first-round picks of the 2010s?

Let’s have some fun here and provide a top 10 list in each category, based obviously on this writer’s opinion.

WILKINS AMONG TOP DOLPHINS DEFENSIVE TACKLES

This list is based on performance with the Dolphins only and the total contributions for the franchise

1. Bob Baumhower (1977-86) — Five-time Pro Bowl selection, best defender on the Killer B’s

2. Tim Bowens (1994-2004) — Ask Zach Thomas how important Bowens was to his success

3. Manny Fernandez (1968-75) — A major contributor to the Super Bowl defenses of the 1970s

4. Randy Starks (2008-14) — Was used in a wide variety of ways in 3-4 and 4-3 defense and always produced

5. Christian Wilkins (2019-23) — Always a good run defender but then became an impact pass rusher in his fifth season

6. Ndamukong Suh (2015-17) — His tenure in Miami was unjustly criticized because of his contract but he still was very productive for the Dolphins

7. Paul Soliai (2007-13) — Fourth-round pick got off to a very mediocre start but he turned it on and became a run stuffer

8. Daryl Gardener (1996-2001) — Imposing physical specimen who could be dominating but wasn’t very consistent and also dealt with back issues

9. Vonnie Holliday (2005-08) — Veteran brought in by Nick Saban was a solid starter and leader on the defense

10. Brian Sochia (1986-91) — Run-stuffing nose tackle was selected to the Pro Bowl in 1988

WILKINS AMONG DOLPHINS FIRST-ROUND PICKS OF THE 2010s

As with the previous list, this is about a player’s performance with the Dolphins

1. Mike Pouncey (2011) — Anchored the offensive line for a half-dozen years

2. Christian Wilkins (2019) — Was a starter from day one

3. Laremy Tunsil (2016) — Gave the Dolphins three good seasons before his mega trade

4. Ja’Wuan James (2014) — James was a solid starting right tackle before he left as a free agent

5. Ryan Tannehill (2012) — Tannehill never blossomed until he went to Tennessee, but he did start for seven seasons

6. Jared Odrick (2010) — Odrick was a solid start but never a difference-maker up front

7. DeVante Parker (2015) — Parker’s tenure was known more for his injury issues than his production

8. Minkah Fitzpatrick (2018) — The Dolphins didn’t get a chance to fully maximize Fitzpatrick’s talents before his clash with Brian Flores led to his trade to Pittsburgh

9. Charles Harris (2017) — Harris became a serviceable player for the Detroit Lions, but he wasn’t able to produce much for the Dolphins

10. Dion Jordan (2013) — We don’t really need to revisit and explain what went wrong here, do we?

WILKINS AMONG THE MOST SIGNIFICANT DOLPHINS FREE AGENT DEPARTURES

This one is the most difficult list because we have to combine the magnitude of the player, the size of the contract but also where the player was in his career

WR Irving Fryar (1996) — Part of the big cap purge after Jimmy Johnson replaced Don Shula as head coach, Fryar was a Pro Bowl wide receiver before and after he left

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DT Christian Wilkins (2024) — Wilkins never did make the Pro Bowl, but he was a foundational piece for the Dolphins with his play and leadership

LB Bryan Cox (1996) — The heartbeat of the Dolphins defense in Shula’s final years, Cox never was able to deliver for the Chicago Bears

CB Troy Vincent (1996) — A former first-round pick, Vincent went on to make multiple Pro Bowls for the Eagles

DE Olivier Vernon (2016) — A budding star pass rusher, Vernon left after the Dolphins put the transition tag on him and then rescinded it

DE Cameron Wake (2019) — The Dolphins’ best player of the 2010s was part of the big purge of 2019

T Richmond Webb (2001) — Webb had given the Dolphins 11 great years before he left for Cincinnati

T Jake Long (2013) — This was significant because Long had been the first overall pick in the 2008 NFL draft and might have been headed to the Hall of Fame had it not been for knee issues

RB Ricky Williams/RB Ronnie Brown (2011) — We’re taking the liberty of combining those two because they had such a good run together (pun intended)

DE Jason Taylor (2010) — We close off with the future Hall of Famer, who left as a free agent to sign with the rival New York Jets after being traded to Washington in 2008 and then coming back the next season. He would return for a third and final stint in 2011.

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