Mike Wallace to Rams: Why Ex-Steelers WR Would Look Good in St. Louis
It's no secret that the St. Louis Rams were offensively challenged in 2011—they ranked dead last in point production (12.1 points per game) and found the endzone only 18 times all season (less than any other NFL team).
Clearly, the offense is responsible for the majority of the Rams' 14 losses last season.
Thanks to Steven Jackson, the ground game was not a complete disaster, but certainly nothing to brag about. They ranked 23rd in total rushing yards (1,667).
The real tragedy, however, was an aerial attack that ranked 30th in average yards per game (179.4).
Also, Rams receivers averaged just 11.2 yards per reception (26th in the NFL). Of the 10 worst teams in that category, nine missed the playoffs. This undoubtedly highlights the importance of the passing game in today's NFL.
As a result, if the Rams' wish to increase their win total as soon as possible, it would not be unwise to focus their efforts on improving their average amount of yards per catch.
Coincidentally, Steelers receiver Mike Wallace is officially a restricted free agent after his team refused to stick him with a franchise tag.
Let's take a look at what Wallace could potentially do for the Rams, as well as what it would take to get him...
What Can Wallace Do for the Rams?
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The Rams are desperate for an offensive weapon capable of scaring an NFL secondary, which is why Mike Wallace would be a dream acquisition for the team.
Wallace is one of the more dangerous deep-threats in the game today. In his three NFL seasons, he has averaged 18.7 yards per catch.
The 25-year-old averaged a stunning 21 yards per catch in 2010, and although his average dipped to 16.6 last season, he still had a 95-yard touchdown and a career-high 72 receptions.
If you mix Wallace's numbers (72 catches, 1,193 yards) into the Rams' 2011 receiving totals, then the team's average yards per catch increases from 11.2 (26th in the NFL) to 12.2 (13th in the NFL).
Last season, the Rams only had three passes of 40 yards or more between all their receivers combined. Wallace had seven by himself.
Opposing defenses would have to account for Wallace on every single play, which opens up a world of opportunities for Sam Bradford and the offense.
Suddenly, defenses would not have the luxury of zeroing in on Steven Jackson.
Also, with the secondary constantly watching for the deep ball, it would allow Danny Amendola and tight end Lance Kendricks to run rampant on short and intermediate routes.
What Would It Take to Get Him?
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As a restricted free agent, the Rams would be obligated to provide Pittsburgh compensation in return for Mike Wallace.
The Rams are free to negotiate with Wallace, but the Steelers are free to match any offer or receive a first-round draft pick as compensation.
Basically, the Rams would have to give up their No. 2 overall pick as compensation, which has absolutely no chance whatsoever of happening.
However, the terms of the agreement can be negotiated.
If the Rams and Wallace were to come to an agreement in principle, then the Steelers could ultimately decide to lower their demand to a second-round pick.
Or, if the Rams can trade their top pick to Cleveland ahead of time, picking up their No. 4 and No. 22 overall picks in the process, then the Steelers could ultimately deem the No. 22 overall pick as acceptable compensation.
It's indeed a highly unlikely scenario, and it's a leap to even suggest that Wallace would want to come to a 2-14 team to begin with.
However, if the Rams were to find themselves in a position where they could get Wallace for the No. 22 overall pick, then it would be well worth it.
Trading that pick for a 25-year-old receiver who is already a Pro Bowl player sounds more appealing than drafting a receiver who may be a Pro Bowler someday (or, not).
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The Rams could eventually re-sign Brandon Lloyd as an answer to their problem at wide receiver. Lloyd is 30 years old and would not provide the longevity that they'd get from Wallace, but he's certainly an appealing option in his own right.
At 6'5" and 230 pounds, Vincent Jackson is another receiver who would instantly improve the deep ball. However, the 29-year-old is a Pro Bowl player who will command plenty of interest from various teams. He'll eventually sign with the team that presents the most lucrative offer.
Justin Blackmon is probably a reach for the Rams' No. 2 overall pick. However, if the Rams can trade down to No. 4 overall (Cleveland) or No. 6 overall (Washington), then he'd make for a valuable draft pick. Blackmon is potentially a difference-making receiver, but all rookies are unknown assets.
Stephen Hill measured in at 6'4" and 215 pounds at the NFL Scouting Combine. He impressed scouts with a 4.36-second 40-yard dash and a 39.5 inch vertical jump. He has the physical traits of a dominate NFL receiver, which would make him a solid option for the Rams' No. 33 overall pick (if he's still available).