Posted March 12, 2013

Philip Wheeler to sign with Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins, NFL Free Agency
Philip Wheeler had 109 tackles and three sacks in 2012. (Robb Carr/Getty Images)

Philip Wheeler had 109 tackles and three sacks in 2012. (Robb Carr/Getty Images)

The Miami Dolphins continued their spending assault on free agency Tuesday, reportedly agreeing to a deal with ex-Raiders linebacker Philip Wheeler. Per Ian Rapaport of NFL Network, Wheeler’s deal is worth $26 million over five years, with $13 million guaranteed.

The move to swipe Wheeler off the market came just a few hours after Miami surprisingly landed Dannell Ellerbe. The Dolphins followed up that Ellerbe signing by releasing middle linebacker Karlos Dansby, and it’s very possible that Wheeler’s arrival will mark the end of the line for either Koa Misi or Kevin Burnett — that duo started together for 14 games last season.

How much of an upgrade Wheeler will be over either Misi or Burnett remains to be seen, but the 28-year-old Wheeler enjoyed an impressive 2012 and entered free agency with a great deal of momentum. He is competent in all aspects of linebacker play; he’d be able to play outside in the Dolphins’ current 4-3 or possibly jump inside, should they slide back to a 3-4.

Say what you will about the Dolphins’ early moves — Wheeler, Ellerbe and Mike Wallace — but they’re clearly throwing caution to the wind in an effort to improve rapidly.

If nothing else, Tuesday’s quick strikes should drum up a little buzz among a frustrated Dolphins fan base.

Grade: B-plus. I gave Miami a “B” for the Ellerbe signing, and Wheeler looks like a better fit for the Dolphins’ current defense. This is another heavy commitment, but Wheeler should be worth it.

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