I hate Mike Wallace in Miami at $13 million a year.
I love Mike Wallace in Miami.
So I like the deal. Here's how you justify this: The Miami Dolphins needed a deep-threat receiver. There was only one in the market. They didn't have much competition, but make no mistake, if the Dolphins didn't very slightly trump the going market for receivers, $11 million to $12 million a year, Wallace would have been tempted to stay on the market while trying to force a receiver-desperate team like Minnesota to get involved.
I like Dannell Ellerbe migrating from Baltimore to Miami. I like Chris Clemons staying to bolster the safety position in Miami. For the Dolphins' up-the-middle defense, it's a good day. But for what they need to compete in the AFC East, the Wallace signing, reportedly five years and approximately $65 million, is the biggest news of the day in Miami. And needed news.
Miami GM Jeff Ireland drafted a quarterback, Ryan Tannehill, with a good deep arm last year. He had a good possession receiver, Brian Hartline, and one of the best slot receivers in football, Davone Bess. But no legit deep threat. Now that the Dolphins have Wallace, coach Joe Philbin, who did such a good job in Green Bay with Aaron Rodgers in providing intermediate and deep threats in the passing game, should have the tools he needs to be competitive for a wild card slot this year in the AFC.
The Jets will be worse in the secondary once the expected trade of Darrelle Revis goes through. (And don't tell me how great they were in the secondary last year, and they'll be fine without Revis. I'm not buying that nonsense.) Buffalo has a respectable secondary, but it doesn't have the speed corners to stay with Wallace. And in New England, the secondary is in trouble, particularly if Aqib Talib doesn't re-sign. I don't trust, and no one should, Bill Belichick to replenish the corner position through the draft, because he's been terrible at drafting corners in the last four or five years.
Wallace, I believe, is in a perfect position to prosper in the AFC East. Miami will be good enough running the ball (with Daniel Thomas, Lamar Miller and a draft choice) to make sure the offense isn't solely dependent on the passing game. The Miami foes will almost have to keep a safety devoted to protecting the deep secondary this year, and that should open up the rest of the field for Hartline, Bess and the tight end who will replace Anthony Fasano.
There are no guarantees in free agency. Never are. And time will prove Miami most likely overpaid for a very good, but not great player. But the Dolphins are better today on offense than they were yesterday, and they'll be a lot better if Tannehill and Wallace quickly get on the same page when offseason workouts begin April 15.
Free Agent Tracker & Grades | BANKS: Day 1 Snap Judgments
Now for your email:
FREE AGENCY REALITY. "Appreciate your take on the 'winner' of free agency being a meaningless title for future success. I agree that a 'substance over style' strategy in free agency makes more sense. With that being said who do you think the Browns should target? To me it seems like Jared Cook, Louis Vasquez and either Antoine Cason or Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie would be smart moves that wouldn't spoil the Browns long-term salary cap outlook."
Well, I like your thinking, except that Vasquez, obviously, is already in Denver. But I believe Cleveland paid the right price, $8 million a year, for not a sure thing as a rush linebacker, Paul Kruger. I would also try to get Cliff Avril, but only if the price is right.
ON THE REFEREES. "I saw your points on referees, Dean Blandino, and ways to bring in new officials since NFL Europe has gone away and even though working preseason games may help, why wouldn't they just add another official on the field during regular season games and put a 'C' on his back for 'consultant'? He won't have a yellow flag, but when they have an in-game discussion, he could add an opinion and you get the benefit of not only another set of eyes, but possibly the best setting to get on-field training for that future official -- it's the proverbial win-win. I can't see a downside."
--Lee Simmons, Erie, Pa.
Not a bad idea, but I would worry about clogging the field, Lee. The only way I'd do that is if the 'C' guys stayed close to the sidelines and out of harm's way. I doubt the NFL would do that.
THE FLACCO HANGOVER. "Simple question. Do you sense any growing animosity among players directed at quarterbacks because of how much the "elite" are paid against the salary cap? I find it amusing that Flacco demands such a high pay day and then states how much he wants Boldin to return. It's obvious that higher QB contracts mean less money available for other players and resultant free agency departures of key players like Boldin. But with more GMs seeming to prefer building through the draft and market values for many non-QB positions falling to compensate for QB pay raises, will this at some point bubble over into discord within the NFLPA?"
-- Roy, Baltimore
Interesting question. I don't sense it, but I can tell you this: I know Patriots players who loved Tom Brady in 2005 for taking significantly less than market value so the money could go to other players. The problem with this argument this year is that Flacco only costs $6.8 million on the cap. So in the future players might be ticked off, but this year, that anger would be misplaced.
I THINK HE STAYS. "What do you think will happen with Victor Cruz? He is certainly the best slot receiver available and for teams like St. Louis and San Francisco, with multiple first-round picks, losing a 1st might not be prohibitively expensive. I am not sure why the Giants are in such a salary cap mess but how can they possibly commit more than $10 million per year to Cruz? Given Hakeem Nicks' injury troubles and despite his enormous talent, I think most Giants fans would prefer Cruz over Nicks.
--Barry Siegel, Philadelphia
I don't think Cruz leaves, because I don't think a team is going to want to pay a first-round draft pick plus untenable money to get him. Remember, the offer the team would have to give would be a heavy one, at least $9 million a year, plus the loss of a first-round pick. That's a lot for Cruz, and I'm a guy who loves Cruz. I think he'll end up staying with the Giants, but at their price.