The Minnesota Vikings clearly need to add talent at wide receiver this offseason, and any free agent at the position should at least be on their radar. Mike Wallace, who is virtually certain to not re-sign with the Pittsburgh Steelers, is widely regarded as the best wide receiver in this year’s free agent class and is likely to break the bank in his next contract.
The Miami Dolphins also have talent issues at wide receiver, and they are in a position to make a significant offer to whichever receiver they choose since they have significant room under the salary cap. Multiple reports on Wednesday suggest the Dolphins view the Vikings as a significant threat in their pursuit of Wallace, but should Minnesota have any real interest in signing the soon-to-be former Steeler?
Wallace had a disappointing 2012 season, with 64 receptions for 836 yards with eight touchdowns, as he battled drops and a diminished role in Pittsburgh’s offense under offensive coordinator Todd Haley. His yards-per-catch average reached a career-low last season (13.1), but that is not necessarily evidence that his speed has eroded significantly at age 26 (27 on Aug. 1).
The Vikings need a vertical threat at wide receiver, and Wallace’s presence on the field would make things easier for the entire offense. Quarterback Christian Ponder has certainly shown his shortcomings to this point in his career, but how Wallace fits in Minnesota’s offense comes down to offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave’s play-calling. Musgrave has show little imagination in the passing game through his first two seasons at the helm of Minnesota’s offense, but a lack of capable personnel at wide receiver has to be considered a big factor in that.
Wallace held out last summer after Pittsburgh reportedly offered him a five-year, $50 million contract extension, which clearly seems to have turned off one of the league’s top organizations. The Steelers have salary cap concerns that make them unable to be big spenders on the free agent market, but their lack of interest in bringing Wallace back should be a huge red flag for any team that shows interest in him.
I think Vikings’ general manager Rick Spielman will do his due diligence and make a phone call to Wallace’s agent when the free agency negotiating window opens this weekend, which he should do under the circumstances. But once Wallace’s contract demands are made clear, the Vikings are unlikely to make an offer that will keep his attention.
Leaving the dollar figures that will come in his new contract aside, I think Wallace is simply not among the elite wide receivers in the NFL. Since the Vikings need to add more than one capable pass catcher this offseason, I think he is an all-around bad fit.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.