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3 players the Miami Dolphins could use the franchise tag on in 2024

It’s never too early to think ahead when building a football roster.

NFL: Carolina Panthers at Miami Dolphins Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Teams had until 4 p.m. on Monday to reach an agreement with franchise-tagged players — otherwise, they’d play under a one-year contract that’d be worth the average of the top five players at their position.

The Miami Dolphins used the franchise tag in 2022 to keep tight end Mike Gesicki under contract for another season. Gesicki is now a member of the New England Patriots. Only five teams used the franchise tag this offseason.

Quarterback Lamar Jackson, defensive tackle Daron Payne (Washington Commanders), and Evan Engram (Jacksonville Jaguars) signed new deals before the deadline. A trio of runningbacks, Saquon Barkley (New York Giants), Tony Pollard (Dallas Cowboys), and Josh Jacobs (Las Vegas Raiders), couldn’t agree on a contract during the negotiating window.

While the Dolphins didn’t use the franchise tag in 2023, here are three players who could be tagged next season.

Christian Wilkins

The former first-round pick has done everything right since being drafted by the Dolphins in the 2019 NFL draft. Wilkins led all defensive tackles with 98 tackles as the foundation of Miami’s defense last season.

One of the biggest storylines of the offseason, Wilkins remains without an extension as four other defensive tackles, including Payne, have signed new contracts this offseason. Both sides have publicly said they’d like to reach a long-term deal to keep Wilkins with the Dolphins.

Miami gave big contracts to Bradley Chubb, Tyreek Hill, and Jalen Ramsey — will Wilkins be next on the list?

Connor Williams

Williams signed a two-year contract with the Dolphins last offseason after playing left guard with the Dallas Cowboys. Coach Mike McDaniel decided to play Williams at center — a seamless transition for the former second-round pick.

Williams played every offensive snap for the Dolphins in 2022 and allowed just three sacks. He sat out of the team’s mandatory minicamp earlier this offseason. If Williams doesn’t sign a new deal this offseason — and he continues to improve at center —the Dolphins could choose to tag Williams for one final season before finding a long-term solution to the position.

Robert Hunt

The Dolphins drafted Hunt in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft, and he’s improved each season — allowing just three sacks while playing all but one of Miami’s offensive snaps last season.

Hunt spent the last two seasons at right guard and joins Williams and left tackle Terron Armstead as pillars of Miami’s offensive line. The Dolphins spent nearly a decade trying to rebuild the offensive line, tagging Hunt would put duct tape over future concerns as money becomes an issue.

The Dolphins sit $30 million over the 2024 salary cap, so the franchise tag doesn’t seem likely next offseason. That said, it could work as general manager Chris Grier and the front office looks to push money down the road. The franchise tag is a way to maintain continuity without creating one more tough roster decision in the coming years.