Dolphins GM Grier explains why DT Christian Wilkins was their 13th overall pick in NFL Draft
Rashan Gary signed his rookie contract with the Green Bay Packers a few days ago. You probably didn’t notice, but the truth is that deal signed in Wisconsin has significance on what is about to happen in South Florida.
Gary was the No. 12 overall draft pick in the 2019 draft.
And the Miami Dolphins selected Christian Wilkins as the No. 13 overall draft pick in the 2019 draft.
And once No. 12 is signed, we pretty much know with some certainty what No. 13 is going to get because the NFL draft is a slotted system. And everyone signs, and does so relatively easily because it’s not 2001 anymore, folks.
So no holdouts.
No agents whispering about the team and vice versa.
All relatively painless.
That leads us to the numbers:
Gary signed a four-year deal worth $15,877,312. The deal includes a $9,567,136 signing bonus and a fifth-year option. The entire deal is fully guaranteed.
And that deal amounts to a 7.1 percent increase over the deal Vita Vea signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last year after he was drafted No. 12 overall. Vea’s deal was for $14,824,238 with an $8.86 million signing bonus. Again, all fully guaranteed and there was a fifth-year option.
Meanwhile, nose tackle Da’Ron Payne was selected No. 13 overall by the Washington Redskins last year and he got a deal worth $14,418,360 that was fully guaranteed and included a fifth-year option. His signing bonus was worth $8.56 million.
So why is all that pertinent to Wilkins?
Because the expectation is Wilkins, a defensive lineman, will not get more than Gary, a college defensive lineman who is expected to play linebacker for the Packers. And he will likely get around a 7 percent increase on the deal Payne, another defensive lineman, got last year as the No. 13 overall selection.
What does that mean to Wilkins tangibly?
It means within the next few weeks (could be hours for all intents and purposes) Wilkins will sign a four-year deal worth in the neighborhood of $15,442,064 with a signing bonus of approximately $9.2 million. The entire deal will be fully guaranteed. And it will contain a fifth-year option.
And off we will go with the signing of Dolphins draft picks.
(Dolphins executives and Wilkins agents reading this might grumble this negotiation is a very delicate and complex matter and the non-lawyer that adds and subtracts with his fingers is understating the whole thing. And eventually they’ll do a deal within dollars of the numbers you just read.)
Last year the Dolphins didn’t sign any of their draft picks until after June 1. They needed to do that because they needed the post-June 1 relief of cap monies from the release of Ndamukong Suh.
The Dolphins need not wait for such cap relief this year. The team had $37.1 million in cap space as of Tuesday, per NFL Players Association calculations.
That means Miami has plenty of cap space to sign all its draft picks anytime deals can be agreed to -- including prior to the start of rookie minicamp on Friday.
So, um, what’s everyone waiting for?
Let’s go ...