In what is possibly the most predictable roster decision the team has had to make in a very long time, the Miami Dolphins have decided to part ways with outside linebacker Philip Wheeler.
Wheeler, an eight-year veteran, signed with the Miami Dolphins in 2013 on a 5-year / $26,000,000 contract after having a sort of breakout season the year before with the Oakland Raiders. He and fellow linebacker (and the likely candidate for the other post-June 1st cut) Dannell Ellerbe were brought in with the hopes that they would create a "younger and faster" linebacker corps as opposed to veterans Karlos Dansby and Kevin Burnett.
That experiment ended pretty badly. While Wheeler did make a career-high 83 tackles in 2013 for the Dolphins, it was painfully obvious that he had shortcomings in pass-coverage, which was the very thing the Dolphins had been struggling with when it came to dealing with opposing teams' tight ends.
Eventually, Wheeler was even benched in favor of then rookie linebacker Jelani Jenkins, who looked ok in his limited playing time. It wasn't until 2014 when Ellerbe went down for the season that Jenkins true skill was allowed to reveal itself, and in doing that, it showed that the likes of Ellerbe and Wheeler were expendable, especially with other, cheaper candidates like Dion Jordan, Jordan Tripp and Chris McCain waiting in the wings.
Designating Wheeler as a post-June 1st cut makes it much better financially for the Dolphins. If the team had cut him normally, he would have counted for $4,200,000 in dead money and a measly $200,000 in cap savings. As a post-June 1st cut, Wheeler counts for only $1,400,000 in dead money and $3,000,000 in cap savings The only proviso with this is the savings from releasing Wheeler won't kick in until after June 1st.
Ellerbe is likely the next man up to be cut, but the team is searching for a possible trade partner. If some team decides to bite on Ellerbe, that could still leave the door open for wide receiver Mike Wallace to be the second post-June 1st cut. Only time will tell what happens next.
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter. @FLSportDebater
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