Earlier this morning we learned that Mike Wallace — the soon-to-be former Steelers wide receiver because he won’t be franchised — is the Dolphins’ top target in free agency, according to Omar Kelly of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
Purely from a talent and need perspective, this makes a whole lot of sense. Brian Hartline is the Dolphins’ current No. 1 receiver, and he’s a pending free agent. There’s optimism that he can be retained even though contract talks haven’t started yet (Drew Rosenhaus, something something). Still, even if he does re-sign, Wallace — or any other top free agent wide receiver — should be a top priority.
Ryan Tannehill had a promising yet often inconsistent rookie season, and much of that was due to his sparse deep options. There was a severe lack of scoring on the outside through the passing game, or in general, as the Dolphins finished 30th with just 13 passing touchdowns in 2012. But only two of them landed in the hands of either Hartline of Davone Bess, their top two receivers.
A Hartline-Wallace tandem would be pretty swell for Tannehill’s 76.1 passer rating. But at what cost? Surely not Vincent Jackson money, right?
Mike Wallace has been a reasonably productive individual so far this season. He may not be even a little bit close to the guns ablazin’ sizzling start he had last year, but hey, that came during a far away time when Antonio Brown was just a meddling second receiver on the Steelers depth chart, and not a receiver who’s pretty much identical in every way to Wallace. Good times indeed.
Now Wallace has 397 receiving yards through his first six games after having 612 at this point at year ago, a pace that’s dropped from 102 yards per game to 66.2, and Wallace’s current string of slightly above average-ness has included a game with only 17 yards (Week 5). But yeah, whatever, amiright? At this point you’re getting what you (hopefully) paid for, with Wallace descending to be a WR2, and a high-end one at that most weeks. He’s your classic pony who’s memorized only one trick: run really far to an unknown destination, and hope a football is waiting for you there. Basically, he’s DeSean Jackson, with both wideouts giving you equal opportunities for a boom or a bust on any given week.
And that’s swell. But Wallace has struggled with a vital part of that equation a bit this year, and especially recently. You know, the part about catching a football.
Mike Wallace is fully expected to report to the Steelers today, and finally sign his contract and end his useless holdout. But he’s been expected to report nearly every day for the past week or so. Will today be different? Will the question of where the f@#% is Wallace finally be answered? Where’s the cream filling?
This calls for Wallace Watch 2012, which is infinitely more fun than lockout watch, although I still miss Ron Burgundy and Brian Fantana. So, where the f@#% is Wallace right now as I write this? Well, at the airport of course.
That’s the word according to ESPN’s Josina Anderson, a report graciously brought to us by Rotoworld’s Evan Silva. Steelers officials picked him up at the airport this morning, and we’ve yet to receive word on whether or not they were armed.
It’s still quite confusing as to why Wallace took this long to report. His holdout was indeed useless, but his motivations were two fold. Firstly, he wanted some straight cash homey, and then when it became apparent that more greenery wouldn’t land in his pocket — especially after Antonio Brown received his contract — Wallace simply didn’t want to get hurt during training camp. But the possibility of an injury exists in every practice, and the gruesome two-a-days in the August heat were completed over a week ago.
Since his delay lingered he’s now created another little opening week problem for those of us who own or are about to own Wallace on our fake teams, which is the most important ramification of his actions. Assuming that car from the airport doesn’t divert to a shady back alley where dice are rolled or something and Wallace signs his restricted free agent tender today, he still can’t practice for three days under the new CBA rules.
That means he’ll have only one week of practice to absorb Todd Haley’s new offense that’s notoriously complex for receivers. Consequently, while he’ll play and contribute, it seems unlikely that Wallace will be Pittsburgh’s primary receiver and play a major role during their opening week game against the Broncos.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t start Wallace, because his speed and boom potential should never be left on your bench. But just knock those expectations down a few notches for one week, and if possible structure the rest of your lineup to compensate for numbers that are below Wallace’s norm.
The other problem that’s yet to be determined is exactly what Wallace’s norm will be following Brown’s late-season rise last year, and his big money contract. The pieces are in place for a platoon of sorts on the Steelers’ WR depth chart, with Wallace and Brown being 1 (A) and 1 (B), and there won’t be a clear separation between the two.
This weekend we’re going to have an answer to the question on everyone’s mind in Pittsburgh: where the f@&*%! is Wallace?
Mike Wallace will finally stop being a stubborn fool, and he’ll report to the Steelers and sign his one-year tender after Pittsburgh’s preseason game against Buffalo, according to Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport echoed Bouchette’s report, saying that he spoke to several players who have been in contact with Wallace, and the receiver told them that he plans to join the team.
This isn’t surprising whatsoever, because the only logical reason for Wallace to sit out and not sign that $2.7 million fully guaranteed one-year contract was to avoid a training camp injury, although at times it seemed his holdout was continuing out of sheer misguided petulance. Since starters don’t typically play in the fourth and final preseason game, he won’t have to worry about tearing an essential part of his body during a non-essential game.
His presence immediately helps Ben Roethlisberger’s fantasy outlook, even if Wallace’s production could be hindered slightly by an uncertain backfield situation.
Mike Wallace’s hesitation to report to training camp is to some degree understandable, but it’s still mostly baffling and devoid of any common sense whatsoever. Every NFL career is a fleeting existence, and while he’s still young and still valuable, Wallace needs to maximize every avenue for leverage that he has to get the most money and the greatest commitment from his team.
That’s a simple, fundamental principle which applies to every NFL contract situation. Although the details will always differ, Wallace isn’t unique in the sense that he needs to maximize his value. The problem is that in his case, holding out and not reporting to camp isn’t productive, and it’s accomplishing absolutely nothing. As a restricted free agent, his options are to either sign the fully guaranteed, one-year contract worth $2.7 million he’s been given or…yeah.
With his holdout continuing, he’s creating far more negatives than positives. We’re now halfway through training camp, and Wallace also didn’t attend the spring mini camps. That means he’s far behind during the implementation of Todd Haley’s new offense. Although he still has great value as a deep option, so does Antonio Brown, and the longer Wallace is gone, the greater his chances of becoming a memory increase as Emmanuel Sanders gets more reps too.
Since he’s come this far with his holdout and since the Steelers remain adamant that they won’t trade him, from the players’ standpoint it only makes sense if he keeps it going into the regular season, and through to Week 10 before reporting so he can still get credit for a year of accrued service. There’s also the chance that he could gain leverage once the season starts and the Steelers possibly discover that Brown isn’t quite ready for No. 1 receiver duty after all.
Apparently, he likely won’t do that, which further shows that Wallace isn’t a fan of common sense. He hates thinking.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that although he could change his mind, it’s expected that Wallace will report to the Steelers prior to Week 1. If and when that happens, what exactly will his holdout have accomplished other than creating a sour relationship with the Steelers’ front office? The only minor accomplishment will be avoiding a training camp injury, but it’ll come at the cost of being significantly behind in Haley’s offense, and possibly losing his No. 1 wideout job briefly to start the season.
If that happens, Wallace’s numbers could also suffer, and so could his paycheck next offseason when he tries to get paid. Again.
So basically, by continuing this holdout and then reporting prior to Week 1, it’s clear that Wallace is getting advice from the underpants gnomes…
And now the links part of the links post…
These replacement officials will probably be around for a while, and likely into the regular season. Therefore, to make one of them feel more at home, the players may have to dress in lingerie. God help us. [ESPN]
I almost made this it’s own post, then I decided that any more blatant pageview grasping through the power of Tebow will lead to permanent Internet purgatory. But hey look, Tebow in GQ, something something. [GQ]
The Louisiana police investigated the allegations against Saints general manager Mickey Loomis that originated from an ESPN Outside The Lines report by John Barr. The report had the details of damning, perhaps criminal acts as it all but accused Loomis of eavesdropping on the opposition from his suite. Police found no evidence of such conduct, so now what the hell will the ESPN machine do with the completely false barbs they threw at Loomis that could have permanently damaged his reputation? Nothing, of course. [Awful Announcing]
Oh hey, thanks for that 12-year-old news, TMZ. We haven’t heard about Chad Johnson’s prior domestic arrest this week. Not once. [TMZ]
Johnson’s reality show with his wife has been canceled. Pop culture will never be the same. [USA Today]
Jake Locker will be the starting quarterback for the first time in an NFL game this Friday. It’s not a regular-season start, but it’s still a chance for him to lead the first-team offense against a first-team defense. [Titan Sized]
We get it. The Jets were a popular team before the arrival of Tim Tebow, and now ESPN has moved its entire staff to Cortland. In fact, our sources have told us that the ESPN buildings are currently being uprooted and moved as well. It’s quite the operation. But c’mon, Jets and Jets media, this wildcat secrecy is getting completely ridiculous since, you know, reporters never relay specific information about formations at practice anyway. [Wall Street Journal]
More ratings returns that tell us preseason football beat out the Olympics last week in a local market. You know that face you make when you’re given a tie for Christmas, or the latest Canadian Tire invention you’ll never use? Make that face right now. [Pride of Detroit]
To cash in on society’s primal urge to spend money on the meager, faint hope of a monetary reward, the Patriots are selling scratch-off lottery tickets, because of course they are. Mmmm money. [Sports Business Digest]