I don’t know if you’ve been keeping up to date with the Cincinnati Bengals rumors, but top of the rumor mill at the moment is that the Bengals are planning to make a move for Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace when the free agency opens today. The truth behind this rumor will come out over the next few days, but I can tell you right now that it’s not going to happen. I could see the Pittsburgh Steelers going back to Wallace on their hands and knees and offering him every last penny his heart could desire before the Bengals take him up. There are quite a few reasons why I feel this way, and if the Bengals are the shrewd business men that we have all grown to love, then they’ll see it my way too.
The Shrewd business men we all know and love
As of the 1st of this month, the Bengals have a reported $54 million in cap space, more than any other team. Also, if we rewind back a few weeks to the franchise tag period, the Bengals elected to franchise defensive end Michael Johnson, meaning that next season he will be paid around $11.6 million, making him the highest paid player on the team. For most teams, they would have a number of players on their team paid that much, but for the Bengals to have to pay him that price only because of a franchise tag, shows that they are likely unwilling to pay a receiver with under 1,000 yards last season that kind of money.
Mike Wallace on his own Merit
Wallace is looking for someone to pay him $11 million a season when he signs a new contract. It’s extremely likely that the biggest reason why the Bengals were in the list of possible teams is because of the amount of cap space they have. However, I am quite aware that they didn’t manage to hold an enormous cap space by paying players money that they don’t deserve. Although the wide receiver has only missed one game since the beginning of his career, showing to all of us that injury would not be a concern, he has seen a significant drop off in his numbers over the past two seasons. After breaking 1,000 yards in 2010 and 2011 respectively, he failed to reach the mark this season, catching for only 836 yards and eight touchdowns (also down from 10 in 2010), numbers that Mike Brown would probably not risk $11 million on.
Mike Wallace is an extremely fast receiver, capable of creating huge space down the field and has the kind of breakaway speed that has afforded him to make a 95-yard and an 86-yard touchdown in his last two seasons, a stat that most receivers will never see in their lifetime. AJ Green, funnily enough, is an extremely fast receiver, capable of creating huge space down the field too, but unlike Wallace, Green hauled in passes for over 1,000 yards last season (1,350.) Green also managed 11 touchdowns in the process, one more than Mike Wallace has gotten in any single season. Green is also doing all of this for a fraction of the price. Green will be paid around $2.2 million next season – 20 percent of Wallace’s asking price.
Likelihood of being signed
5 percent – Mike Wallace is an excellent receiver and if he does find a team with a good quarterback, it’s almost inevitable that his stock will rise again, but that team is not Cincinnati. The Bengals don’t have the money (well, yes they do but they’re not going to spend it) and they already have a down-field play maker in Green. If they were to sign Wallace, it would likely free up AJ Green for all of the football that he could ever want, but maybe they might find someone like that in their price range.