And the Raiders defensive player of the year is...

January 5, 2013, 12:00 pm
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This is the second of five season awards given out by's Raiders Insider Paul Gutierrez.

Friday -- MVP: Carson Palmer
Coming Sunday -- Special teams player of the year

Defensive player of the year/Newcomer of the year
Philip Wheeler

Referred to as being a little light in the (behind) to be a strongside linebacker by CSN Raiders analyst Bill Romanowski, Philip Wheeler weighed in just right as the crown jewel of general manager Reggie McKenzie's first free-agent class, thank you very much. Starting 16 games for the first time in his career, the fifth-year linebacker led the Raiders with 150 tackles, 1,015 snaps and had a career-high three sacks.

Early in the season, Wheeler began wearing the "green dot" on his helmet and assumed playcalling duties on defense, taking over from Rolando McClain. Yes, Wheeler was a bargain at a reported $700,000, but he is on track to be an unrestricted free agent and will command a hefty pay raise. The Raiders need to figure out a way to re-sign him.