In exactly two weeks, Mike Wallace will be that cool kid you always wanted to be. Remember when you were the first one with a Discman? So awesome.
Right now, it feels like everyone will want to be around Wallace once free agency begins. They’ll call him late at night, and perhaps send flowers and chocolates. We know Joe Philbin will likely, almost definitely be making a call. Or eight.
But what about the Panthers?
Since he’s a wild and crazy guy, Panthers head coach Ron Rivera was dropping hint bombs on the NFL Network Tuesday morning.
“You’re warm [with Wallace], but you know what’s going to be interesting is how things unfold once we get to March 12,” Rivera said on “NFL AM.” “There’s a lot of things that are out there that we have to really take into consideration. You know, we’ll see how things are going to affect us when we get to the 12th.”
Wide receiver is a need for the Panthers, and Wallace would be a much better fit in Carolina while alongside Steve Smith than he would be in Miami while alongside potentially no one of note if Brian Hartline walks. As we’ve noted so many times previously, Wallace’s skillset — which consists of running deep, and only running deep — is ideally suited to being a complementary wideout, which means he thrives in a situation when an Antonio Brown is on the opposite side of the field.
Smith also has blazing speed, so together the two would create a situation that would split defensive backfields, and often allow both to escape bracket coverage due to the abundance of speed on either side. Throw in the presence of Greg Olsen to draw attention up the middle, and suddenly this hypothetical configuration of pass catchers makes Cam Newton pretty intriguing for those who enjoy selecting a quarterback far too early in their fantasy drafts (note: don’t ever do that).
But we have to break up this rosy little lovefest with a minor problem: the matter of the salary cap. Back in early January the Panthers were $15 million over the cap, and they still need to trim about $10 million over the next two weeks. Even once they escape salary cap jail, signing anyone — and especially signing a receiver like Wallace who will likely seek $60 million over five years — will be extremely difficult.
So we can keep dreaming our fantasy dreams, because a Smith-Wallace pairing would indeed be quite profitable for all parties involved. But a lot of moving parts have to be adjusted before that becomes reality.