Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE
We get down to the nitty gritty in our Raiders 2012 Season Awards. This honor goes to the team's Best Acquisition.
The Raiders were in one of the most precarious positions this offseason. Their salary against the cap was horrendous. At one point, they were over by $22 million and that was even after they had cut away portions of some big salaries. After those cuts, they would still need to look at adding free agents in an attempt to remain competitive. Our Best Acquisition is the player who was all they had hoped and more.
Best acquisition - Philip Wheeler
One of the big name players the Raiders had to cut ties with was Kamerion Wimbley. The team needed to sign someone to replace him at the strong side linebacker spot and they couldn't break the bank doing it. That's where Philip Wheeler came in.
The Colts didn't bring him back as a free agent and he was courted by several teams looking to add a young, proven linebacker talent to the mix. The Raiders fans caught onto this and kicked their recruiting efforts into gear on social media. Wheeler made it known that the fan reaction was a big part of his decision to sign with the team.
Another draw for Wheeler had to be the lack of competition for the job. The Raiders were desperate and he knew if he came to Oakland, the job was his to lose. The Raiders didn't have a lot of money to spend but he also knew that wouldn't always be the case so he signed a one-year, cap friendly deal with the team.
The Raiders had an idea he was going to be good but Dennis Allen admitted in camp that Wheeler had brought more to the team than he or Reggie McKenzie had anticipated. He was a fine all-around linebacker and a good teammate as well.
After week four, Rolando McClain was relieved of his play calling duties and Wheeler was handed the green dot helmet. The defense was instantly improved over the next three games and Wheeler kept the play calling duties the remainder of the season.
He would finish the season as the team leader in solo (78) and combined tackles (109) from the strong side. He added three sacks, six passes defended, and two forced fumbles. With the job he did this season, it is conceivable the Raiders might try him at middle linebacker. This new Raider could be here a lot longer after the season he had in 2012.