The Miami Dolphins made the biggest splash in free agency when they signed wide receiver Mike Wallace to a five-year, $65 million contract in the opening minutes of the new league year.
Now the Dolphins have made the most surprising move in free agency, reeling in inside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe on a multi-year contract, Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun reports.
Ellerbe's deal is worth $35 million over five seasons, according to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com.
Originally signed as an undrafted free agent out of Georgia in 2009, the 6-foot-1, 240-pound Ellerbe has 182 tackles, 5.5 sacks and an interception in 46 games over the last four seasons. Ellerbe became a full-time starter in 2012, establishing career-highs with 92 tackles and 4.5 sacks in 13 games. Ellerbe was second on the Ravens with 32 tackles and had an interception in the team's 28-13 win over the New England Patriots in the AFC championship game.
Two of the top five cap numbers on the Dolphins right now (pre-Mike Wallace deal) belong to inside linebackers Karlos Dansby and Kevin Burnett, and the arrival of Ellerbe means that one of those two veterans could be released in the coming days. Dansby has the Dolphins' highest cap number at $8.575 million and is scheduled to earn $6.25 million in cash compensation. Releasing Dansby would save the Dolphins $3.925 million in cap space. Burnett is scheduled to earn $4.45 million in cash in 2013 and his release would save $3.2 million in cap space this season.
Losing Ellerbe means more change at linebacker for the Ravens this offseason. Ray Lewis has retired and outside linebacker Paul Kruger signed a $40 million contract with the Cleveland Browns. Last offseason, the Ravens lost outside linebacker Jarrett Johnson to free agency.