Free agency is still a month away, but already the juicy rumors are starting to surface. The very reliable Jason La Canforna, reporter and columnist for CBSSports.com, believes that free agent Mike Wallace of the Pittsburgh Steelers could land with their bitter division-rival, the Cleveland Browns.
Wallace is not expected to return to the Steelers after spending the past four years in Pittsburgh. Wallace, one of the more coveted upcoming free agents, has averaged over 1,000 yards and eight touchdowns in his four seasons in the NFL. Overall, the talented wide receiver has caught 235 passes for 4,032 yards and 32 touchdowns in his career.
It is clear that Wallace will not return to the team, especially after he infuriated the front office last season with his pre-season holdout. Another thing that is for certain: signing him would be a great addition for the Browns offense. The Browns offense made significant strides last year with the emergence of impressive rookie running back Trent Richardson and rookie wide receiver Josh Gordon. Greg Little also showed signs of promise in his second year in the NFL, despite his recurrent dropped passes. With offensive minded head coach Rob Chudzinksi and offensive coordinator Norv Turner added to the staff, the team was likely to improve again on offense. But adding Wallace to the mix would bring a whole new element to the Browns offense.
The Browns offense would have the potential to be explosive if they can lure Wallace to Cleveland. Wallace would fit perfectly into the Browns’ new offensive scheme, which stresses the vertical passing game. Wallace would be an ideal fit to the offense because of his extraordinary speed as he can get behind the defenders quickly.
With the second most salary cap space in the NFL ($45.6 million) heading into free agency, the Browns need to capitalize and spend money on top-tier free agents. Building through the draft is the best way to improve a franchise but when a player like Wallace is on the table and a team has sufficient money to spend, they need to get him. Adding Wallace to the Browns would not only make their team much better, but it would also weaken the division-rival Steelers offensive as well.
A young receiving core of Gordon, Little and Wallace would give the Browns a dynamic offense for years to come. If the Browns can sign Wallace, then they can turn their attention in the draft to the defense, particularly a pass-rusher for their new 3-4 defense and a cornerback to shore up their secondary.
Wallace supposedly will want a deal in the five-year, $55 million dollar range. If that is the case, then the Browns need to take advantage of the ample money they have on the table and sign him to an offer sheet. Players with the skill of Wallace do not come around all the time, so the Browns need to make the most of this opportunity and sign him when free agency begins next month.