It is no secret around the Miami Dolphins right now that linebackers Philip Wheeler and Dannell Ellerbe are on the wrong side of the team's expected salary cap creation moves for the 2015 offseason. Wheeler has already been told the team will release him and, unless a major contract restructuring happens fairly quickly, Ellerbe will likely join him on the free agent market. That is, unless, the Dolphins can find a trade partner.
According to Alex Marvez of Fox Sports, the Dolphins are actively shoppig both Wheeler and Ellerbe in the final hours before the league's free agency period begins. The Dolphins would like to receive something for either linebacker, rather than just cut them for the cap savings, but it is unlikely any team would be willing to take on the contracts for either player, especially if they know they can just wait and get them cheaper once Miami releases them.
Ellerbe and Wheeler both joined the Dolphins in the 2013 offseason. Ellerbe was signed away from the Baltimore Ravens, inking a five-year, $34.75 million contract. He contributed 101 tackles in 2013, but missed nearly the entire 2014 season due to injury. He is scheduled to account for a $9.85 million salary cap number this year, but releasing him could provide Miami with $5.65 million in space against the cap if he were released. That number could jump to $8.45 million if Miami used a post-June 1 designation on him, but they would not see that money until June 2, making it not available for the free agency period.
Wheeler also signed a five-year contract, with his worth $26 million. Wheeler is scheduled to account for a $4.4 million cap hit this year, with just $200,000 in saving if he is out-right released. The Dolphins have already indicated that, if he is let go instead of traded, the team will use one of their two post-June 1 designations, which will give the team $3 million in cap space in the summer. In two years with the Dolphins, Wheeler played in 31 games, starting 20, with seven passes defensed, one fumble recovery, and 163 tackles.
The start of the new league year, and with it free agency, is this afternoon at 4pm ET. If no trade partners are found by that time, Miami will likely move quickly to release both linebackers.