The Miami Dolphins continue to send shock waves throughout the NFL as they actively explore every avenue to improve the team in day one of free agency. After landing the top wide reciever in Mike Wallace and the top linebacker in Dannell Ellerbe, Miami set its sights on LB Philip Wheeler, quickly signing him to a five year $26 million deal with $13 million guaranteed.
While the Dolphins were expected to land a big name wide reciever, the additions of two linebackers came as more of a surprise. In Oakland last season, Wheeler accumulated a career high 109 total tackles, 3 sacks and 2 forced fumbles. Although it is a high price to pay for a player who has had only one terrific year, Wheeler showed continuous improvement from his rookie season to the current point in his career.
Jeff Ireland has made it a point of emphasis to acquire players who are already in, or entering their prime by adding the 28 year old Wheeler, a 27 year old Ellerbe and releasing a 31 year old Karlos Dansby and a 30 year old Kevin Burnett. These moves will ensure that the Dolphins stout defense continues to play at a high level for many years to come.
Going forward into free agency, the Dolphins should have enough cap space to sign at least one more impact starter. The team has showed its desire to provide Ryan Tannehill with a variety of weapons therefore it can be expected that the team will add another reciever. With the departure of Anthony Fasano, tight end becomes a more prominent need however it can be addressed on the open market as well as in the draft. Cornerback remains rather thin but Miami is fortunate that there are many options in the draft and free agency to chose from. In the coming days the Jake Long situation will become more clear with there being an increasing possibilty that he returns to Miami on a deal favoring the team. As it stands, the Dolphins have glaring holes at tight end, cornerback and offensive line with the assets in both picks and cap space to cover them.
Thus far, the Dolphins added three players in their prime including a deep threat to their offense and linebackers to shore up the defensive front seven. All in all, this is a pretty impressive start to the 2013 league year for Miami.