Super Bowl Winning LB Ellerbe Signs With Miami

Posted Mar 13, 2013

Big free agent acquisition shores up defense.

Five weeks after celebrating a Super Bowl championship as a member of the Baltimore Ravens, inside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe has joined the Miami Dolphins.

General Manager Jeff Ireland didn’t blink after firing out of the gates on the first day of free agency by signing wide receiver Mike Wallace. He immediately turned his attention to one of the other prizes waiting to be plucked by landing Ellerbe, athletic outside linebacker who was an important piece of Baltimore’s imposing defense.

Ellerbe was the leading tackler in the Ravens’ 34-31 win over the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII with nine (six solo) and considers that the best game of his career to date – while also believing it would not be his last game in a Ravens uniform.

“I honestly didn’t see me leaving Baltimore. I thought I was going to be the successor (to future Hall-of-Fame linebacker Ray Lewis),” he said. “The Dolphins showed how much they loved me and how much they wanted me and I couldn’t turn them away. They liked everything about my game, the physicality, the speed and everything about my game, the leadership that I show on the field. There was just a lot that they want here that they feel I can bring.”

Ellerbe, who registered 4.5 sacks and 92 tackles (69 solo) last season, was signed as an undrafted free agent out of the University of Georgia in 2009 by Baltimore and started three games as a rookie. He has 182 career tackles (142 solo), 5.5 sacks, one interception, one forced fumble and four passes defensed and at the young age of 27 he is just now reaching his prime.

Defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle will likely use Ellerbe the same way he used veteran Karlos Dansby as the middle linebacker in the 4-3. Dansby was released today along with fellow veteran linebacker Kevin Burnett and Ellerbe is eager to show what kind of intensity he can bring to the Dolphins defense.

“I would describe myself as a guy that plays like his hair’s on fire and a guy that’s not going to turn down a hit,” said Ellerbe, who left here with a good impression of Coyle as being a straightforward coach. “I feel like I’m a linebacker that can do everything that you ask me, whether it’s cover, whether it’s blitz or whatever you want. I’m ready to go right now and it’s a great atmosphere down here in Miami. I finally get to get out of the cold.”

By signing Ellerbe and Wallace, Ireland was able to keep his team young on both sides of the ball and he still has the NFL Draft next month to add more young pieces to the roster. Ellerbe took notice of how young and talented the team is around him and is looking at this is a new challenge after already winning a championship.

He and Wallace used to be division rivals in the AFC North but now he’s looking forward to being teammates with the big-play wide receiver. Ellerbe also has experience covering the dangerous tight end tandem of Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez with the New England Patriots and has a unique take on how to defend that team.

“You just can’t panic because they have the offense that they’re going to get some yards, they’re going to move the ball and they’re going to get first downs,” Ellerbe said. “You’ve just got to play defense all the way down the field because sooner or later you’ve got to make something happen, either keep them out of the end zone or force a turnovers. It’s a team that I’m familiar with and I’m looking forward to playing them twice.”

With the addition of Ellerbe, Wallace and linebacker Philip Wheeler, the Dolphins have gotten that much closer to owning the same attitude. In fact, Ellerbe shared what Ireland told him as the reason why Miami went after him.

“Basically, what I got out of was he told me, ‘We want to get what you got. We want to get to the Super Bowl.’ He told me how he was 13-3 twice and lost in the first round,” he said. “So he said it’s something that’s not guaranteed and we’re trying to put the right pieces to the puzzle and in the right spots.”
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