Giants’ All-Pro DT pushed the front office to reunite him with former college teammate in free agency

Oct 8, 2023; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Miami Dolphins defensive tackle Christian Wilkins (94) celebrates after sacking New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones (not pictured) during the first half at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants made some big splashes in the free agency pool this offseason, but the most recent episode of HBO’s “Offseason” edition of Hard Knocks revealed that they nearly made an even bigger move.

While giving a behind-the-scenes look at general manager Joe Schoen’s free agency process, the Hard Knocks camera captured a moment discussing the potential signing of free-agent defensive tackle Christian Wilkins. According to Schoen, as expressed to his executives on Hard Knocks, All-Pro DT Dexter Lawrence pushed him to pursue Wilkins in free agency.

Dexter Lawrence was pushing GM Joe Schoen to pursue Christian Wilkins in free agency

In a scene where Schoen and his front-office executives were debating which free agents to target, Wilkins was brought up as a potential option. Schoen then mentioned how Lawrence pushed his GM to take a look at his former collegiate teammate:

“Dex texted me about him the other day. Dexter asked what we thought,” Schoen told his executives with a smile as they debated whether or not to pursue the Miami Dolphins free agent (h/t Levi Damien on X).

Dexter Lawrence, Christian Wilkins, Clemson, Giants
Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Lawrence and Wilkins played together in college at Clemson. Both players wound up becoming first-round draft selections in the 2019 NFL Draft. Lawrence was picked No. 17 overall by the Giants while Wilkins went No. 13 overall to the Miami Dolphins.

What could Wilkins have brought to the Giants?

Christian Wilkins, Dolphins, Raiders, Giants, Clemson
Credit: Chris Pedota, / USA TODAY NETWORK

Reuniting the two elite interior defenders would have been an exciting proposition for the Giants. Both Lawrence and Wilkins excel against the run and bring a unique pass-rushing element to the interior of a defensive line. However, the Giants ultimately felt that Wilkins’s prowess as a pass-rusher was lacking:

Ultimately, the Giants passed on Wilkins, opting to pursue edge rusher Brian Burns in a blockbuster trade instead. Wilkins wound up signing with the Las Vegas Raiders this spring on a four-year, $110 million contract — a price tag that was never realistic for Schoen and company. Now the Giants will need to wait until training camp to see who will fill that need opposite Lawrence on the defensive line.

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