With Philip Wheeler dangling on the NFL Free Agent market, the Oakland Raiders are in grave danger of losing their top defensive player to another team. Reports have been mixed on whether or not Wheeler is going to return, but his absence will be missed if in fact he hits the road in the coming weeks.
Oakland fielded an awful team in 2012 losing 12 games with a dreadful showing on defensive allowing more than four yards on the ground per carry. Had it not been for Wheeler, that number would’ve doubled, but the five-year-pro made an astounding 109 tackles last season and was a lone bright spot. The only way that I would understand the Raider’s letting this linebacker go would be if the asking price got to be too high.
Heading into the offseason, Wheeler was supposed to be a “steal” to 4-3 teams looking for an outside linebacker. Several teams have already shown interest, including the St. Louis Rams, who have been raving about the outside linebacker. Wheeler plays like his hair is on fire most of the time, which isn’t a bad thing, but while playing on one of the worst defenses in the league, he was rather easy to pass up.
If the Raiders swing a deal to bring Wheeler back, they will have a little bit of stability on a defense which is going to be extremely young in 2013 as general manager Reggie McKenzie is looking to hit the 2013 NFL draft hard. This will be the first time that he has a first-round pick in his tenure with the Raiders.
Re-signing Wheeler would make the Raiders feel much better about avoiding the holes at linebacker and selecting a defensive lineman with the third overall pick.