2013 NFL Free Agency: Mike Wallace Is Miami Dolphins “Top Target”
Just when a Greg Jennings-Joe Philbin reunion seemed all but certain, the Miami Dolphins have placed another high-profile, free agent wide receiver at the top of their list: Mike Wallace.
Omar Kelly of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports that Wallace—who was franchised last season by the Pittsburgh Steelers—is the Dolphins’ “top free agent target.” It’s no surprise, given that Wallace is only 26 years old, has deep threat speed and has been durable in his four seasons with the Steelers, that he would be so coveted by the Dolphins.
The problem though, is that Wallace would command an expensive, multi-year contract—is he worth it?
Kelly examines that question in his article, bringing up a good point if, “whether [Wallace would] stay on that elite pace after receiving his first big deal,” citing a hypothetical (but realistic) $60 million contract with $24-30 million guaranteed. He raises a good point, adding that, “The Steelers clearly know something because teams rarely let a player of his caliber get away with no strings attached.”
Additionally, Kelly compares Wallace’s deal to that of Tampa Bay Buccaneers receiver Vincent Jackson’s contract he signed as a free agent last year, a comparison in which Chris Wesseling of NFL.com looks further into. Last offseason, Jackson signed a five-year, $55.555 million deal with the Buccaneers, and that Wallace turned down a similar deal with the Steelers, which is why they ended up placing the franchise tag on him last offseason. But, some are skeptical whether Wallace is worth now what Jackson was last year. Wesseling quotes an anonymous general manager that told Peter King of Sports Illustrated, “I like Mike Wallace…but I’m not paying him Vincent Jackson money. Not even close.”
Wallace had an off-year—by his standards—in 2012, catching 64 passes for 836 yards and eight touchdowns, after topping 1,100 yards in each of the two season prior. Defenses scheming to stop Wallace, along with the emergence of Antonio Brown, could have been reasons why for Wallace’s decline in production last season, but how’s that going to be any different in Miami where he’d be opposite Brian Hartline and have a second-year quarterback in Ryan Tannehill throwing to him rather than two-time Super Bowl winner Ben Roethlisberger?
If the Dolphins and Wallace do talk contract, it will be interesting to see how both parties try to convince the other about how much the free agent receiver is really worth.