NFL Free Agency

Unexpected defensive star could hit free agent market, per new report

And this player could be a good fit for the Bears

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An unexpected defensive lineman could hit the free agent market next week. The Dolphins are not expected to place the franchise tag on defensive tackle Christian Wilkins, per Jeremy Fowler.

Wilkins, who turns 29 this December, set a career high with nine sacks last season, and added 10 TFL, one forced fumble and two fumble recoveries. The Dolphins drafted Wilkins with the No. 13 overall pick in the 2019 draft, and picked up his fifth-year option for the 2023 season. Over his five-year career, Wilkins has 20.5 sacks, 43 TFL, four forced fumbles and six fumble recoveries.

The Bears are in the market for another DT this season since Justin Jones’ contract is set to expire next week. It’s unclear if the Bears believe Gervon Dexter is ready to take over as the team’s starting three-tech tackle as an NFL sophomore this season. If they do, they might draft another rookie DT to continue to build out the position group. If not, look for them to add a veteran to the mix like Wilkins.

The Bears want to come at opponents in waves on the defensive line, so they won’t be satisfied with just one reliable player at each spot. They want multiple guys playing significant snaps so that their linemen stay fresh throughout the game and can operate at a high level in the fourth quarter or overtime.

If the Bears decide to pursue Wilkins, they won’t be alone. Disruptive defensive tackles are always in demand and several teams could benefit from his services.

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