Now that we are deep into the NFL offseason, let’s go back and take a look at the Tech players who performed the best on the field last season. I believe the most informative and exciting way to do this is to make a Top 10 list, counting down from 10 to 1. I’ll post one player a day for the next ten weekdays, so make sure to keep up and share your opinions by commenting below. The next player we are going to talk about and the number five player on this list is Philip Wheeler, an OLB for the Raiders last season.
Wheeler started his NFL career with the Colts after being drafted by them in the 3rd round of the 2008 NFL Draft. He increased his tackle totals each year with the Colts, but was not resigned prior to last year. Instead he chose to sign a one year deal with the Raiders and made the most of his opportunity. In his one year with the Raiders, he accumulated 109 tackles, 3 sacks, 2 FFs, and 6 pass deflections. Along with gradually developing as a player, he was able to stay healthy for all 16 games of the season, which explains the excellent productivity.
Wheeler lands at #5 on this list because he was a consistent, above-average player for the entire season, which can’t be said for everyone below him. Looking forward to next year, I expect him to have another very good season now that he is playing on a better defense after signing with Miami yesterday. Therefore, I think he can rise a spot or two on this list, assuming he can also hold off healthy and consistent years from Derrick Morgan and Daryl Smith. Below are the rankings so far.
According to Pro Football Talk, Philip Wheeler has signed a five year contract with the Miami Dolphins. The contract is a 5 year, 26 million dollar contract, with 13 million guaranteed. Wheeler joins Mike Wallace and Dannell Ellerbe in the Dolphins’ stacked FA class. He’s going to be playing on a pretty good Dolphins defense next year, so congrats to him on the smart choice.
Leading up to the beginning of the NFL Free Agency period I will be going through some of the former Georgia Tech players who will be looking for new teams and big contracts. There are some notable players on the list of FAs this year and quite a few should get multiple year deals. Let’s take a look at one of Tech’s best linebackers in the NFL, Philip Wheeler.
Philip Wheeler was drafted in the third round of the 2008 NFL Draft by the Indianapolis Colts. He played for four seasons in Indianapolis until he signed a one year deal with Oakland last offseason. His tackle numbers have increased each year as he has gotten more playing time. His one year deal with the Raiders will end up paying off, however, as he had a very strong year for them. For the 2012 season, Wheeler had 109 tackles, 3 sacks, 2 FFs, and 6 pass deflections. Those numbers put him towards the top of the 2013 Free Agent class and he will be looking for a big pay day.
Wheeler is still relatively young(only 28) so I expect him to sign a three or four year deal with a team. I also don’t see him worrying about the team’s past performance, meaning he will go to the highest bidder. It will be interesting to see who will get a better contract between him and Daryl Smith, since both are top tier linebackers in this year’s FA group. Free Agency starts tomorrow at 4 P.M., so news on his status may come quick. Teams have been allowed to talk to players’ agents, which means he should already have visits line up. If he gets an offer he likes, he may be signed by a team within the next few days. Hopefully he can find the best deal for himself and I’ll let you know where that is when it happens.
The NFL Free Agency period begins at 4 P.M. on March 12th and there are quite a few former Georgia Tech players looking for a job. As we get closer to the beginning of FA, I’ll write a few posts about certain Tech players and where they should end up. For now, Michael Johnson is the only player who knows where he’ll be next year. He was franchise tagged by the Bengals, ensuring he will be with them for at least one more year. Here’s the rest of the free agents this year.
UFA (Unrestricted Free Agent)- Player is allowed to sign with whatever team he would like at the start of the FA period.
RFA (Restricted Free Agent)- The player’s old team places a qualifying offer on them and the player is allowed to talk to other teams. If the player signs a deal with another team, his original team is allowed to match the offer. If they choose not to match it, they will receive draft pick compensation in the round the RFA was designated in. This is somewhat confusing and it makes it pretty hard for RFA to sign with a different team because most teams don’t want to give up draft picks for players.
Exclusive Rights Free Agent- These FAs have two years of NFL experience but are not currently on a roster. If their former club offers them a three years veteran’s minimum contract, then they must take it or else not play in the NFL.
Tashard Choice- UFA
Jonathan Dwyer- RFA
Anthony Allen- Exclusive Rights
Will Heller- UFA
Andrew Gardner- RFA
Michael Johnson- Franchise Tagged
Vance Walker- UFA
Keith Brooking- UFA
Daryl Smith- UFA
Philip Wheeler- UFA
Gary Guyton- UFA
Free Agent info was acquired from footballfutures.com