Dolphins’ Zach Sieler describes ‘bittersweet’ moment watching Christian Wilkins go

Miami Dolphins defensive tackle Zach Sieler formed one of the NFL’s top defensive tackle duos over the past several seasons with Christian Wilkins.

With Wilkins leaving in free agency for a four-year, $110 million deal with the Las Vegas Raiders, Sieler, who joined Miami late in the 2019 season off waivers from the Baltimore Ravens, now comes into focus on the Dolphins’ defensive line.

“It’s one of those bittersweets,” Sieler said in a web conference Tuesday about watching Wilkins leave. “Loved playing with the guy, but it’s great seeing him get paid and go somewhere else and make an impact over there.

“But in reality, this defense, this D-line isn’t built off just him or him and I or whoever inside. It takes a whole rotational front. It takes everybody up front.”

Sieler, forming a tandem nicknamed “Salt and Pepper” with Wilkins, understood Wilkins had a business decision to make and wasn’t necessarily surprised when it happened.

“Honestly, I was just along for the ride, whether he was here, whether he was gone,” Sieler said. “It’s what it is. It’s the business, and hopefully he does a great impact over there.

With Wilkins gone, as well as nose tackle Raekwon Davis, the Dolphins have brought back Benito Jones after his stint with the Detroit Lions, added Teair Tart, Jonathan Harris and Neville Gallimore and re-signed Da’Shawn Hand to build competition for playing time in a defensive line rotation.

“Some of those guys really twitchy, active with their feet, hands,” Sieler said. “It’s been really cool getting to play with these new guys coming in and getting to learn their techniques and habits and how we can play off each other this year.”

Even after having his first 10-sack season, in which he had 63 tackles, two fumble recoveries and an interception for a touchdown, Sieler feels he can take another step as he turns 29 in September.

“I think, with or without Christian, no matter what, that’s the goal every year,” he said. “That’s my plan. I don’t care who’s next to me. I’m going to find a way to make it work.”

With Wilkins departing, Sieler sees himself as one of the leaders on the defensive front this year, along with Jaelan Phillips and Bradley Chubb.

This story will be updated.