Raiders agree to deal with LB Wheeler
April 1, 2012
ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) – The Oakland Raiders agreed to a one-year deal with unrestricted free agent Philip Wheeler on Friday to fill their void at starting outside linebacker.
Wheeler visited the Raiders on Thursday and agreed to the deal a day later.
Wheeler played 13 games for Indianapolis last season, making 80 tackles and recording one sack. He played four seasons overall with the Colts with 182 tackles and two sacks.
“We’re excited to add another veteran to complement our talented linebacking group,” general manager Reggie McKenzie said. “He gives us a lot of athleticism and versatility. He’s a player that can do a lot of things.”
McKenzie said earlier in the week that strongside linebacker was one of the final starting positions that needed to be filled this offseason.
A hole was created there earlier this month when the Raiders released Kamerion Wimbley. Wheeler is not the pass rusher that Wimbley is but is considered to be a better run defender, which is a big need in Oakland.
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The agreement came hours after the Raiders filled another hole by acquiring backup running back Mike Goodson from Carolina for offensive lineman Bruce Campbell.
Goodson, who ran for 501 yards and three touchdowns in three seasons with Carolina, became expendable after the team signed free agent running back Mike Tolbert earlier this month.
He was fourth on the depth chart behind Jonathan Stewart, DeAngelo Williams and Tolbert, so his departure did not come as a surprise.
“Being behind DeAngelo and Stewart for a couple of years has been difficult just wanting to play and being a competitor,” Goodson said. “I wasn’t looking to leave but anywhere that gave an opportunity, I’m definitely up for that.”
The Raiders needed depth at running back after losing Michael Bush to Chicago in free agency. Starter Darren McFadden has been injury prone, missing 19 games in his four seasons and Taiwan Jones played sparingly as rookie and is seen as more of a change-of-pace back.
In three seasons with the Panthers, Goodson played in 28 games with three starts.
He rushed 125 times for 501 yards and three touchdowns and added 43 receptions for 329 yards. Goodson had three straight 100-yard rushing games and three touchdowns late in the 2010 season under former coach John Fox in 2010.
But he didn’t have any carries last year under new coach Ron Rivera and caught one pass for 4 yards.
“We wanted to acquire another player to compete at the running back position,” McKenzie said. “He can do a lot of things in our scheme on offense. He’s very versatile, he has natural running skills, he’s a great receiver out of the backfield, and he has kick-return ability. I’m anxious to see if he can put all that together here as a Raider.”
Goodson has outstanding speed but fumbling has been a problem. He put the ball on the ground six times in 2010, losing three. During last year’s training camp Rivera made Goodson carry a football around with him during one practice after he fumbled in back-to-back preseason games.
The former fourth-round draft pick in 2009 can also return kickoffs and play all on all special teams units.
AP Sports Writer Steve Reed in Charlotte, N.C., contributed to this report