Dolphins send message to draft prospects with Christian Wilkins news

Miami Dolphins linebacker Jaelan Phillips (15) and defensive tackle Christian Wilkins (94) sack Las
Miami Dolphins linebacker Jaelan Phillips (15) and defensive tackle Christian Wilkins (94) sack Las / JIM RASSOL/THE PALM BEACH POST / USA

The Miami Dolphins are sending a pretty big message to incoming potential draft picks by letting Christian Wilkins hit the free agent market.

Knowing that Christian Wilkins has likely played his final game with the Miami Dolphins is tough to swallow. Many fans love Jaylen Waddle or Jevon Holland. Others are huge Tua Tagovailoa fans. Admittedly, Wilkins is my favorite.

Sometimes it is hard to put that emotion aside. When a player you like watching leaves, naturally, you feel a bit of anger. Wilkins is a great football player but he isn't elite. He isn't on the same level as an Aaron Donald type. He is asking for similar money though according to rumors.

Still, there is a message that is being sent to incoming draft picks that isn't exactly a good one. Miami, by not extending Wilkins and to a degree Robert Hunt, is saying if you play really well, we may not pay you what your value is. That could be a good thing for them. Free agency typically pays out more in many cases.

The Dolphins have a long history of not succeeding in developing the talent that they draft. This dates back almost 20 years. It is a big reason why the Dolphins had so many bad seasons. When they do hit on a quality player, they can't seem to keep them.

There is an argument being made that the defensive tackle position is replaceable but that isn't entirely true. Finding a good run-stopping DT isn't easy or every team would do it. This year, the Dolphins should have had the foresight to see the market wasn't going to be deep at the position and that would have made a contract last year more understandable. The two sides couldn't come to a deal and now here we are a year later. This is not just a business for the NFL teams but also the players themselves. Wilkins made a business decision last year and now he will see if he gets rewarded by another franchise.

For the Dolphins, it is a trend that will soon stop with an extension of Tua Tagovailoa and presumably Jaylen Waddle at some point in the next two seasons. Jevon Holland will be dealt with next off-season if not extended by the start of this one.

The Dolphins have to find a way to start keeping their own players. Spending big in free agency has won them nothing but it has hurt their roster. Byron Jones' big contract caused friction with Xavien Howard which led to a new deal. Bradley Chubb signed a massive contract as did Jalen Ramsey and Terron Armstead.

At some point, the Dolphins need to filter that money internally to players they draft.

Maybe Wilkins is simply that player dealing with bad timing. Miami doesn't have a great salary situation heading into this new league year and they will be strapped without significant moves. Regardless, it is their job to anicipate these types of seasons.

Christian Wilkins may not be worth $24 million a year or a contract that pushes the boundaries of $100 million which some are suggesting. I get and understand that. At some point, however, the Dolphins have to retain good players. That is the message that needs to be sent. "Play hard for us, give us what you got and we won't let you go."