Detroit Lions rumors: Christian Wilkins on the radar as a Chris Jones pivot?

The Detroit Lions are unlikely to seriously pursue Chris Jones, but is Christian Wilkins in play as a free agency pivot now?
Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Lions need to bolster their pass rush this offseason, and there's been plenty of effort to tie them to Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones should he be available. Edge rusher is the convenient need, but defensive tackle could be one too.

ESPN's Dan Graziano and Jeremy Fowler rounded up some buzz from on the ground in Indianapolis ahead of the final day of the 2024 NFL Combine. One of their many nuggets was this one, about the Miami Dolphins and free agent defensive tackle Christian Wilkins.

"While Miami's stance is that all options are on the table for defensive tackle Christian Wilkins, several league sources say he probably won't be franchise-tagged," Fowler wrote. "That would put a big-time tackle who had 63 tackles and nine sacks in 2023 on the market." 

To say the Dolphins are cap-strapped is an understatement, as they currently sit more than $31.6 over the limit. So they may have to let Wilkins go to greener pastures, and there's a solid argument he's the second-best free agent defensive tackle available behind Jones.

Detroit Lions free agency rumors: Christian Wilkins a viable target?

Wilkins set a career-high with nine sacks last season, as he posted 65 total tackles, 10 tackles for loss and 23 quarterback hits. In 2022, he set the record for tackles by an interior defensive lineman with 98 (broken by Derrick Brown in 2023).

Wikins' 61 quarterback pressures last season (per Pro Football Focus) would have been second on the Lions behind Aidan Hutchinson.

Christian Booher of is in on the idea of the Lions pursuing Wilkins.

"Wilkins will be a big addition wherever he winds up, and has the ability to be a difference-making element. With the Lions' needs, it would be a significant move that would signal Detroit's desire to compete for a Super Bowl."

Of course cost will be a big factor in the Lions' potential pursuit of Wilkins.

Spotrac tabs his market value at $20.2 million per year, with a projected contract of four years, $80.98 million. That annual average is obviously below what Jones is looking for and can surely get, making Wilkins a viable pivot for any team that may have interest in Jones.

Such as they will look at any of the higher-end free agent defensive tackles, Wilkins is only slightly more likely to seriously be on the Lions' radar than Jones is.

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