Philip Wheeler, Former Oakland Raiders LB, Visits 49ers


Nov 9, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Miami Dolphins outside linebacker Philip Wheeler (52) against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

When the Oakland Raiders began their rebuilding process, linebacker Philip Wheeler was shown the door by general manager Reggie McKenzie, landing with the Miami Dolphins where his career went stagnant in Florida before becoming a free agent in the 2015 offseason. Now at 30 the former linebacker in Oakland is back in the Bay Area looking to get a contract offer, this time with the San Francisco 49ers (of Santa Clara) as the veteran who started just four games last season is looking for a fresh start.

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Wheeler reached the peak of his NFL career while in Oakland, joining the Raiders from the Indianapolis Colts for two seasons, setting a career high in tackles and sacks in 2012 with 78 along with three quarterback takedowns before cashing in on that season by inking a deal with the Dolphins. Miami saw good initial returns on their signing of Wheeler in 2013, as the linebacker improved his tackles from 78 to 83, but failed to get a solo sack despite starting in all 16 games for the Dolphins.

Last year Wheeler regressed heavily in Miami, starting four games and dropping his tackles total to just 34 while failing to amass a sack for the second straight year. Numbers that made it easy for the Dolphins to let Wheeler go once the season ended, moving on from the 30 year old to go into a different direction.

Now looking for a new team, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that Wheeler was in the Bay Area visiting with the Niners, looking to get a deal in Northern California after he spent one season in Oakland back in 2012 to put himself on the map before getting paid by the Dolphins.

If Wheeler gets a contract from the Niners it will more than likely be a camp tryout type of deal for the veteran who struggled to make an impact in Miami last season. The Niners surprisingly need help at linebacker following the reitrements of Chris Borland and Patrick Willis so you never know what could happen, but it is safe to assume that a team with the defensive reputation of San Francisco would be talking to Wheeler with the vision of a starting job for an aging 30 year old with little upside in mind as the end target of their interest in the player.

The cold market on Wheeler is a far cry from the end of his one year stint in Oakland where he was one of the better players on the Raiders defense, initially living up to the expectations in Miami for one year before fading in production quickly last year. It is unlikely that Wheeler reaches those highs ever again, but Raiders fans will remember him as a serviceable player who put up big tackle numbers before bolting to Miami. Just don’t expect Wheeler to do the same two seasons later if he signs with the 49ers as he is far from the player he was in his late 20’s now that he is visiting with San Fran.