4 teams that shouldn't hesitate to sign Christian Wilkins in free agency

Christian Wilkins is poised to become an unrestricted free agent. Which teams should pursue the defensive star?

After five years with the Dolphins, Christian Wilkins has his eyes on a new destination in 2024
After five years with the Dolphins, Christian Wilkins has his eyes on a new destination in 2024 / Perry Knotts/GettyImages
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One of the premier defensive linemen in the NFL is about to hit the open market. Christian Wilkins, who has spent his entire five-year career in Miami, is unlikely to return to the Dolphins after the team reportedly opted not to use the franchise tag on him.

Wilkins will garner significant interest around the league, as he checks all the boxes teams look for in a defensive playmaker. He's outstanding against the run, he's a tremendous pass rusher despite playing in the interior of the line and facing frequent double teams, he's only 28, and he's incredibly durable, having played all 17 games each of the last three years.

How many teams could use a guy like that? Probably all 32, if we're being honest. Aaron Donald and Chris Jones are the top two defensive tackles in the league, but Wilkins isn't so far behind after posting the best season of his career in 2023.

Wilkins is projected by Spotrac to command a contract in the neighborhood of four years and $81 million, and with the salary cap being raised by over $30 million in 2024, that might end up being a conservative estimate, especially if, as expected, multiple teams seriously pursue the former Clemson Tiger.

Free agency is just over a week away, so let's look at four teams for whom Wilkins makes the most sense.

4. Arizona Cardinals

The Arizona Cardinals recently reiterated their commitment to building around Kyler Murray, resisting the urge to start fresh at football's most important position in the upcoming draft. That almost certainly means they'll be drafting a receiver with the fourth overall pick if they don't trade down, which means the team will need to use its later picks and free agency to address the defensive side of the ball.

Head coach Jonathan Gannon came from the Eagles, where he spent two years as Philly's defensive coordinator. During that time, he saw what a difference a game-wrecking interior lineman can make, as he had one of the best in the business, Fletcher Cox, playing for him.

Wilkins is made from the same mold as Cox. The two players are both able to wreak havoc themselves while freeing up their teammates to win one-on-one battles on the outside due to the attention they need to be paid in the middle. They're even listed at the same height (6'4") and weight (310 pounds).

The Cardinals ranked dead last in rushing yards allowed last season, and they have to see Christian McCaffrey, Kyren Williams, and Kenneth Walker III six times a year. With almost $52 million in cap space, Wilkins needs to be at the top of their free agency wish list.