In many cases, a new contract for a player acts like a first domino falling to create a chain reaction. For the Miami Dolphins, that domino may be Austin Jackson.
With Jackson now under contract for another three years, the question turns toward the other impending free agents and where they could stand in regards to getting their deals inked before the start of free agency next March.
The decisions that need to be made will not be easy but Jackson is a big extension for Chris Grier. Given the importance of playing an anchor position, the numbers will create a pathway to getting other deals done, or at least that would be the thinking.
Jackson's contract is calling for 3 years, $36 million with $20 million guaranteed. It is a steal if we base this off his performance this year but he has an injury history that likely capped his money. He also has one season, 2023, that has been played at an elite level.
Miami has other offensive linemen that will need extensions as well and with Jackson done, will they be next?
Robert Hunt is the Christian Wilkins of the offense. He is the lovable, fun-loving, physical guard that the Dolphins have lacked for a very long time, and like Jackson, he is due for a new contract.
It's hard to believe that Miami got Jackson for what they did and it would be harder to imagine Robert Hunt, a guard, taking less than that given his consistent play over the last four years. Yes, he is hurt now but Hunt has rarely missed games. He started all 17 the last two years.
Hunt is going to get paid well this off-season and the question is will Miami benefit from that? Locking up Hunt would be smart as it would keep the right side of the line intact.
Connor Williams wanted a raise last off-season and the Dolphins were reluctant to give him one. Now, he has shown the league that he is a top 5 center in the NFL. Miami could have extended him for a reasonable price, now, he may be out of that range but Jackson's extension paves a path.
On defense, Andrew Van Ginkel is the name that continues to sit on everyone's lips. He is playing his best football since being a 5th-round draft pick in 2019. Van Ginkel is earning his extension and the Dolphins would be smarter to get one done now than wait. With Jaelan Phillips out for the year, Van Ginkel will only have more time to prove his value and that value will continue to rise.
He is a perfect fit in Vic Fangio's defensive scheme and the fact Fangio called him out by name in camp says a lot about what he sees in the linebacker. It is also a reason that I still believe something gets done...just likely not soon enough for fans.
Christian Wilkins is the 2nd remaining draft pick from the 2019 draft class that included Van Ginkel. Wilkins is having far and away his best statistical season and he is giving the Dolphins every reason to believe he is worth the likely $80 million deal that he is seeking.
Wilkins is the safest bet of any player for an extension. There is no motivational change for money. He loves the game and it shows every play and has been the same since entering the league but he also knows what that effort is worth as well.
Dolphins fans would be shocked if Wilkins gets a deal done in-season. This will be a months-long endeavor that will likely come right up to the start of free agency in March.