Former Miami Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland (I always chuckle a bit when I write that, but I can’t seem to figure out why) replaced Kevin Burnett and Karlos Dansby last offseason for Philip Wheeler and Dannell Ellerbe, and his decision proves two cliches: “the grass isn’t always greener” (Ellerbe and Wheeler aren’t better than Dansby and Burnett) and “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” (they didn’t need to change things up and would have been better off re-signing those two). Anyway, we’ve all probably complained about that enough in hindsight, and the important thing is hoping that the Dolphins can get better production out of Wheeler and Ellerbe next season, as both are talented starters in this league.
A “Dolphins source” close to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald stated that Wheeler “seemed to become complacent” last year in what was maybe the worst season of his career in the first year of his big contract with the Dolphins. Wheeler has nowhere to go but up going forward, and the Dolphins will have to hope that he can play at a relatively high level in 2014.
Even though Wheeler’s $5 million salary next season will be the fifth-highest on the team, it doesn’t look like he’s a legitimate cap casualty despite rumors that new GM Dennis Hickey could cut ties with him. As Jackson notes, releasing Wheeler wouldn’t really help the team financially, because they would still lose $6.4 million regardless of whether he’s on the roster or not.It simply isn’t wise to release him under that scope, and the only reason to release him is if he were an awful player, way too injury-prone, or a total headcase. He’s none of those three, and it’s clear to me that he can still be a solid starter for the Dolphins. There’s no point in releasing him now, and the Dolphins should simply hope that he plays to his potential going forward- and that result is reasonable enough to expect.