The Miami Dolphins have skillfully assembled a formidable roster, with their defensive line standing out as one of the most impressive units in the entire NFL. In recent years, the team has enjoyed the outstanding contributions of Zach Sieler and Christian Wilkins, who have consistently delivered exceptional performances while being compensated well below their true market worth.
However, this advantageous situation is not going to last indefinitely. As players like Sieler and Wilkins continue to perform at a high level, their contracts will eventually expire. The Dolphins have been able to build a talented roster by leveraging the benefits of having many key players. This means they have been able to sign promising young players or individuals looking to prove their worth without the financial burden of accommodating their salaries under the salary cap.
While it may be relatively easier to build a competitive roster under such circumstances, the true test of a General Manager’s skill and ability comes when these rookie and prove-it deals come to an end. When talented players’ contracts expire, the team must make difficult decisions regarding contract extensions, re-negotiations, or potentially losing key contributors to other teams. It requires strategic financial management and astute decision-making to maintain a competitive roster while staying within the constraints of the salary cap.
Importance of Retaining Key Players
The impending contract situations of Zach Sieler and Christian Wilkins are poised to be the first major decisions for the Miami Dolphins. While fans are particularly interested in the future of Christian Wilkins, assessing his case seems relatively clear-cut. As a former first-round pick, Wilkins was chosen by General Manager Chris Grier, which highlights the team’s investment in his potential. Moreover, Wilkins has consistently been a significant contributor, averaging over 760 snaps per season. This level of playing time underscores his importance to the Dolphins’ defense.
Christian Wilkins has substantiated his value beyond his draft status and playing time by delivering exceptional performances on the field. In the past two seasons, he has ascended to the ranks of the league’s elite interior defenders: his disruptive presence and knack for consistently making impactful plays distinguish him from his counterparts. Moreover, Wilkins has emerged as a vocal leader within the team, commanding the respect and admiration of both his teammates and the coaching staff. This amalgamation of on-field excellence and leadership qualities undeniably cements his significance to the Dolphins organization.
Given Christian Wilkins’ impressive track record, it seems almost inevitable that he will be rewarded with a substantial contract extension. While he may not surpass the astronomical salary of the league’s highest-paid defensive tackle, Aaron Donald, Wilkins is expected to command a top-tier deal. This could result in an average yearly salary in the range of $19 million to $22 million, firmly placing him among the highest-paid players at his position. The Dolphins recognize the impact Wilkins has made and the potential he possesses, making it highly likely that they will prioritize securing his services for the long term.
Uncertainties Surrounding Zach Sieler’s Future
The future of Zach Sieler poses intriguing challenges due to his age, waiver wire acquisition, and snap counts. While his performance matches Christian Wilkins’, Sieler’s older age and non-draft pick status could impact contract negotiations. If Sieler were to leave, the Dolphins could highlight their successful discovery and cost-effective deal. However, Sieler’s increased playing time in 2022 showcases his disruptive abilities, adding to his value. Balancing these factors will be crucial for the Dolphins in retaining a key contributor to their team.
Recognizing Sieler’s Value Beyond the Stat Sheet
It is essential to delve into these factors because they shed light on why the team might exercise caution when it comes to contract negotiations. Zach Sieler is one of my favorite players on the Miami Dolphins, and he undoubtedly falls into the category of being one of the most underrated players in the entire NFL. Initially entering the league as a tweener with a height of around 6’6″ and weighing approximately 290 pounds, Sieler has since added bulk during his time with the Dolphins, utilizing his increased size and exceptional length to dominate opponents on the interior.
Since joining the Dolphins, Sieler has consistently stood out as one of the premier run defenders in the entire league. His rankings among interior defensive linemen over the past two seasons reflect his prowess, placing him within the top 10 in defensive stops and run defense grade, according to Pro Football Focus (PFF). This impact is evident upon closer examination of game footage and is also noticeable to casual fans. Sieler has a knack for making impactful plays precisely when needed, showcasing his unwavering commitment and determination.
Sieler’s uncanny knack for stepping up and delivering game-changing moments truly distinguishes him from his peers. His exceptional level of competitiveness is unmatched, consistently showcasing his reliability and dependability in crucial situations. These invaluable qualities often go unnoticed by many, resulting in his underappreciated status within the league. However, Sieler’s true value extends far beyond mere statistics, as he proves to be an indispensable asset to the Miami Dolphins. His impact on the field transcends numbers, embodying the intangibles contributing to team success and making him an invaluable player.
Price Tag for Performance
Given the circumstances where Zach Sieler is unlikely to receive a contract on par with Christian Wilkins but still holds significant value, it raises the question of what a fair contract for Sieler would entail. It is worth noting that before this season, Sieler decided to enlist Drew Rosenhaus’s services as his agent. Rosenhaus, renowned as one of the top sports industry agents, also has a strong working relationship with the Dolphins’ organization.
Considering the various factors at play, it is justifiable for Sieler to set his sights on securing a contract that positions him within the ranks of the top 10 to 15 highest-paid interior defenders when the 2024 season arrives. This suggests a yearly average salary in the range of $14 million to $18 million, reflecting the value he brings to the table. Given that Sieler will turn 29 in the upcoming season, it is reasonable to anticipate a contract extension spanning three to four years, aligning with his prime playing years.
Should the Dolphins prove unwilling to offer a contract encompassing such substantial financial terms, it is highly probable that other teams will emerge as eager suitors for Sieler’s exceptional talents. Barring any exceptional circumstances, Sieler’s market value will likely attract attention and lucrative offers from teams across the league. However, there remains a possibility that Sieler may choose to prioritize his loyalty to the Dolphins and opt for a discounted rate, providing the organization with an opportunity to retain his services while managing their financial resources effectively.