2013 NFL Free Agency: Mike Wallace to Miami a Done Deal?
Mike Wallace, former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver, is considered the Number-One free agent available this off-season. Had they entered the market the previous season, however, Greg Jennings, former Green Bay Packers wide receiver, would have been the number-one target. Jennings is three years older and missed half of last season with injury; but through his seven-year career, Jennings has proven himself to be a reliable target and positive presence in the locker room.
The Packers have an embarrassment of riches at the wide receiver position, so letting Jennings go is an understandable move in this salary cap era. But the Steelers’ receiving corps is not nearly as impressive, and the fact that Steelers management seems almost happy to see Wallace go should speak volumes. Wallace has one impressive skill – his speed – but four years into his career, that’s still his only one. He can be counted on to break a long TD run every other game or so – which of course still makes him a valuable player – but that’s really it. He has not improved his hands or his skills running a route not named “go,” dropping too many passes and disappearing on shorter play calls.
Both men are expected to be courted by the Miami Dolphins, whose head coach, Joe Philbin, is the former Packers Offensive Coordinator. The ’Fins allegedly prefer Wallace, which seems like a slap in Jennings’ face from Philbin. But the Dolphins just re-signed Brian Hartline, a steady possession receiver, so Wallace’s skill set actually makes him a better fit – Miami needs a deep option, and don’t care if he provides anything else.
So where will Jennings end up, and who will be more valuable? Jennings has said that it’s “very important” to play with a great quarterback, which also would preclude him from playing in Miami (sorry, Ryan Tannehill, you’re not there yet). Some rumors have Jennings going to Minnesota – although Christian Ponder is not great, he now has playoff experience, and of course, plenty of talent around him. Teams will stack eight in the box against the Vikings to try to stop Adrian Peterson – but if Percy Harvin comes back healthy (and gets his money), he will provide another explosive option. Adding Jennings would relieve a lot of the pressure on Harvin, and perhaps splitting touches will even keep both of them healthier. Ponder will then have no excuse – with the best player in the game lining up behind him, AND two reliable options to throw to, the Vikings will need to take the next step forward and really challenge the Packers for NFC North supremacy.
Of course, this is still just speculation – we have to see where each of them winds up, and how the team drafts around them, before we can accurately assess their 2013 prospects. I think Jennings will be a more reliable WR2 in fantasy leagues, while Wallace will disappoint someone expecting him to be a WR1. So don’t sleep on Greg Jennings. He should still have plenty left in the tank, will provide steadier week-to-week numbers, and is more likely to win another Super Bowl before Wallace.
Side note: Now that I’ve said that, prepare for Wallace’s 2013 team to win the Super Bowl as he puts up a 200-catch season.
IDP NOTE: The New York Giants have given a three-year contract to Cullen Jenkins, a former impact defensive tackle, most recently for the Philadelphia Eagles. Jenkins will join a DT rotation in New York, and at 32 years old, his best days are behind him. He will come through with the occasional sack, but won’t have enough tackles (figure two per game) to make an impact in IDP leagues, unless your league somehow counts whether a guy ties up a blocker.