In any sport, there are a certain type of player that you don't let go. In the NFL, that is typically a quarterback but for the Miami Dolphins, this year, it's Christian Wilkins.
"Uncle Dan!", Wilkins yelled after the game against the Jets. It followed with a surprised Dan Marino being bear-hugged by the Dolphins' top defensive lineman. It was a quick hug that left Marino laughing as Wilkins ran off like a little kid on Christmas Day to open another present.
For the last five seasons, Wilkins has been the life of the defense. He is the team's cheerleader for both sides of the ball. The offense scores a touchdown and Wilkins is celebrating with them when he isn't dancing and singing with Zach Sieler.
You don't keep expensive players around because they are a cheerleader. You don't keep players around because they have best friends on the roster or because they give your greatest Alumni hugs. You keep them around because they impact the game and Christian Wilkins impacts the game.
His 8 sacks this season is in the top four of the NFL for defensive tackles. Sieler is 1/2 game behind him. The Dolphins reportedly were hesitant to give Wilkins top DT money because he wasn't producing sacks, that changed this year in the Fangio system.
Simply put, Wilkins is a player that you have to have on the roster and he is not a gamble, a player that will get his big money and his efforts will fall. Wilkins clearly lives for the game and there is no reason to believe he won't be playing at the same level in five years.
Wilkins should be a Miami Dolphins lifer. He is this generation's Tim Bowens. Bowens was an incredibly consistent DT who did his job quietly but physically. Wilkins does his as loud as any player in the NFL but he also does it consistently and physically.
When the season is over and the Dolphins start looking at the players they want to bring back they will then weigh which players they can afford to bring back. The Dolphins have to decide on the futures of Robert Hunt, Andrew Van Ginkel, and a few others as well but Wilkins is a top priority.
Early I said you can't bring a player back because his best friend is on the roster but if the Dolphins have been paying attention, and judging by how loudly Sieler and Wilkins speak, they can't miss it, these two are an incredible duo on the field together. That is something that you can't replace with a draft pick or another free agent.
These two know what each other is going to do and they execute each play well because of it. That is what you don't want to break up. The play on the field is what drives a team to spend huge amounts of money on players and Wilkins has proven he deserves it. He is no longer a luxury like he was considered last off-season and frankly, the Dolphins mistake was not getting him then when he may have been a few million dollars cheaper.