For a guy who scored 60 million bucks a couple of years ago, Mike Wallace sure sounds like he spends way too much time complaining.
He complained about Todd Haley’s offense at the end of his four-year stint in Pittsburgh. He complained often about his role while cashing $27.1 million worth of Dolphins checks the past two years. Heck, there were reports that then-Dolphins General Manager Jeff Ireland had to escort a visibly angry Wallace off the field after he caught one pass for 15 yards in a 23-10 win over the Browns.And that was after his FIRST game as a Dolphin!
And, yes, not surprisingly, there are now reports that he’s not too happy about trading in South Beach for Eastern Eden Prairie. I’m sure the Dolphins were chuckling about that possibility when they traded for Saints deep threat Kenny Stills and were looking for places to send Wallace on a one-way go route.
So if you were to ask me what I think about Wallace joining the Vikings, I’d have to say, “I’ll let you know.” I’ll let him determine whether he’ll be the No. 1 receiver the Vikings covet for Teddy Bridgewater’s next step or a moody malcontent who threatens to be a drag on the second-year quarterback’s promising progression.
It will be interesting to see how Wallace fits in the locker room and under a straight-shooting old-school coach like Mike Zimmer. Dolphins coach Joe Philbin probably spent more time dousing Wallace’s fires than Zimmer will care to. Last year, Wallace claimed he was benched by Philbin after teammates accused the receiver of asking out of a game. Philbin said it was his decision, but wouldn’t elaborate on the halftime conversation with Wallace that led to that decision. Can anyone picture Zim having to have that kind of halftime conversation with a player?
But I will say this. The Vikings had the Dolphins over a barrel on this one. The Dolphins either had to make a trade or release Wallace and eat $9.6 million in dead cap space.
So the Vikings were able to get Wallace and a seventh-round draft pick for a fifth-round pick. They had an extra fifth-rounder from the Matt Cassel trade last week, so they actually came out of a major trade for a potential No. 1 receiver with the same number of draft picks.
Wallace’s cap figures are $9.9 million for this season and $11.5 million for the final two seasons of his current five-year deal. But the only guaranteed money for the Vikings is $3 million for this season. They can cut him after the season with no dead money appearing on the cap.
So the cap numbers are in line for a guy with the potential to be a No. 1 receiver. And don’t be surprised if Greg Jennings has his $11 million cap figure restructured.
As for whether I think Wallace can be that prototypical No. 1 receiver, well, again, “I’ll let you know.” The 6-foot, 195-pounder looked like the fastest player in the league when he was blowing past defenders en route to averaging a league-high 19.4 yards per catch as a Steelers rookie in 2009 and 21.0 yards per catch as a second-year player in 2010.
Of course, he had Ben Roethlisberger as his quarterback at the time. When he went to Miami, where the Dolphins have struggled at quarterback, his averages dipped to a career-low 12.7 yards per catch in 2013 and 12.9 a year ago.
But considering the fact the Vikings don’t have a prototypical No. 1 receiver, didn’t see one in free agency and aren’t guaranteed of finding one in the draft, one can see why they took a shot here.
Having Norv Turner as your offensive coordinator also helps in this situation. Norv can teach his offense while calling up video of Hall of Famer Michael Irvin running the same routes he’ll be asking Wallace to run.
Whether Wallace embraces that opportunity and runs deep with it or keeps on complaining could determine the success or failure with his third NFL team.