Assistant coaches Derrick LeBlanc and William Peagler did one heck of a job for the Arizona Cardinals this past season. The pair put their heads together and extracted everything they could out of the worst defensive line in the NFL. It's now time for the Cards front office to give LeBlanc and Peagler some qualities pieces to work with.
That could start this coming March, when the league's free-agent signing period gets underway. Christian Wilkins, a standout defensive tackle from the Miami Dolphins, will be in search of a new contract. Could the former first-round pick be persuaded to bring his talents to the Arizona desert?
This past Saturday, Wilkins and the Dolphins ended their campaign with a 26-7 defeat to the Kansas City Chiefs. It was a disappointing outing for the veteran, who registered just three tackles during the blowout loss. In no way, however, is that one mediocre performance indicative of what Wilkins can bring to the table.
In 17 starts this past fall, Wilkins helped shut down opposing rushing attacks by racking up 65 tackles for Miami. The 6 foot 4, 310 pounder also flashed his pass-rushing prowess by setting career-highs in both sacks (9) and quarterback hits (23). No defender up front managed to even come close to those numbers for the Cardinals in 2023.
Christian Wilkins would bring both production and durability to the Arizona Cardinals defense
Wilkins turned pro back in 2019 as the 13th-overall selection of the Dolphins, and has been a productive contributor ever since. In 81 total appearances (77 starts), the Massachusetts native has tallied 355 tackles, 20.5 sacks, 19 passes defensed and 50 quarterback hits. Wilkins also recorded the one and only interception of his career back in 2020.
Another attractive quality about the 28-year-old Wilkins is his durability. Over the past three seasons, the former Clemson University product has started all 51 matchups for Miami. That degree of availability would be a welcome change for a Cards defensive front wall that was ravaged by injuries in '23.
According to Spotrac.com, Arizona has almost $52 million in salary-cap space at the present time. A boatload of money that can be spent to address the team's countless needs. It's time for the Cardinals hierarchy to open up the purse strings, and start spending money on difference-making players like Wilkins.
(Statistics provided by Pro Football Reference)