Dannell Ellerbe gripped the brim of his new hat with both hands.
“I look good,” he said.
He certainly does to the Miami Dolphins. Ellerbe was in town Wednesday to sign his new five-year contract — arguably the biggest shocker of a landmark first day of free agency for the Dolphins.
Ellerbe appeared to be the heir apparent to Ray Lewis for the Super Bowl champion Ravens. Instead, he will be the de facto leader of the Dolphins defense.
“I honestly didn’t see me leaving Baltimore,” Ellerbe said. “I thought I was going to be the successor. The Dolphins showed me how much they love me.”
Ellerbe, 27, wasn’t drafted out of college, so his free agency courtship was especially sweet. He was considered the best linebacker on the market. Asked about his style of play, Ellerbe responded, “hair on fire.”
And — importantly for the Dolphins — he knows how to beat the Patriots. The Ravens did so twice last season, including in the AFC Championship Game.
“They have the offense that they’re going to get some yards, some first downs,” Ellerbe said of the Patriots. “You have to play defense. Sooner or later, you’ve got to make something happen.”