Mike Wallace to Patriots: Why Ex-Steelers WR Would Look Good in New England

Marc FreshmanContributor IMarch 10, 2012

For many Patriots fans, a double tight end offense combined with Wes Welker in the slot and Mike Wallace doing his cartoon roadrunner impression would be the realization of a powerhouse fantasy.

Wallace is the proverbial "missing piece" for a Patriots offense that needs youth, attitude, speed, adrenaline and a scorching set of hands downfield. If the Patriots intend to add another banner in the Tom Brady era, Mike Wallace is the free agent to target.

But not all Patriots fans are in agreement about this. For some, Wallace isn't worth the big money or the first-round pick that would be sacrificed.

He doesn't run the routes that would benefit Bill Belichick's system. Tom Brady doesn't throw many deep balls anymore; he relies on short passes to move the chains. Plus, the Patriots had Randy Moss in his prime and still lost thereby negating the argument that they need a primetime receiver to win. If the Patriots intend to add another banner in the Tom Brady era, Mike Wallace is not the free agent to target.

And still, for others, there's the sense that this is all a pipe dream, and therefore, not worth seriously discussing.

To think that a key member of the Steelers would jump to the Patriots is insane. That would be like P.K. Subban jumping to the Bruins or Pau Gasol jumping to the Celtics. If the Patriots intend to add another banner in the Tom Brady era, keep dreaming if you think Wallace is the free agent to target.

There's merit to all of these arguments. 

However, it should be noted that you could make the same type of arguments for or against any free agent on the market. Is Mario Williams worth the gargantuan amount of money he'll command, especially coming off a big injury? Is Brandon Lloyd still in his prime? Would Reggie Wayne be happy playing with anyone but Peyton Manning?

There's no singular free agent who will make the Patriots immune to losing, and there isn't one specific concern that the Patriots must absolutely address for the 2012 season.

In 2011, they had arguably the worst defense in the history of the Tom Brady era, and they still got to the Super Bowl and nearly won. They also reached the Super Bowl in 2007 with a questionable defense. 

In two consecutive Super Bowls, New England's terrible defense held the Giants to 17 and 21 points. That's pretty damn good for a defense that routinely made the citizens of New England queasy every Sunday.

Adding Mario Williams would be fantastic, but how much more can you really stifle an opponent than holding them to 17 or 21 points in the Super Bowl? Unless you feel confident that adding Williams will hold Eli Manning to 10 or 13 points, you'll be spending a ridiculously massive sum of money to repair a defense that hasn't truly been the albatross we believe it to be.

The Steelers are a remarkable defensive team with great pass-rushers, yet they gave up 31 points to the Packers in Super Bowl XLV and 23 points to the Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII. That's more points than New England's bad defense gave up in their last two Super Bowls.

Despite the fact that the Giants had the best pass-rushers on the planet in 2007 and 2011, both of their Super Bowl victories over the Patriots went right down to the wire. In two different games, they let their elite pass-rushers attack Tom Brady like a pack of wild dogs, yet only won by three and four points, respectively. 

In both games, the Giants relied on the heroics of Eli Manning and third-option receivers to clinch their tight victories.   

On the other side of the ball, the Patriots have routinely had one of the most devastating offenses in the NFL, yet they haven't won a championship since 2004.

The Patriots headed into Super Bowl XLII with one of the most potent offenses in history and lost.

So, at the end of the day, your perspective will truly reside in the facts and figures you choose to hold as sacred and those you toss to the curb.

In 2011, the Patriots had the second-most effective offense in the league and lost. In 2007, they had the top offense in the league and lost. Both times, they lost to an offense that didn't crack the top five.

Also, think about this: In the golden age of the Patriots, back when Tom Brady was in his youth and the team was one of the most powerful dynasties in the history of sports, they only won each of their Super Bowl games by three points. Three little points. Not even the golden age Patriots were able to dominate the big game and run away with the Lombardi trophy. They had to fight and claw for each banner.

So what's the point? Simply this: There's no one golden answer on the table. Vehemently disregarding the potential impact of any free agent holds no water unless you're Professor Xavier and you're in charge of the X-Men. Millions, if not billions of dollars, are lost every year from people making the wrong bets on the outcomes of big games.

And so, we circle back to Mike Wallace. For those naysayers, you're right to be skeptical. But you'd be equally as right to be skeptical about acquiring anyone on the free-agency market. The question is: Who gives you the best possible odds of winning? That's really what this all comes down to.

Wallace is 25 years old. To put that in context, he's only three years older than Andrew Luck. That means Wallace's entire future is in front of him.

Can we afford Wallace? Depends. At this point, it's too tough to decipher the eventual outcome of Wes Welker's contract negotiations. His situation could play a key determining factor in whether or not the Patriots have the ability to purchase a high-end guy like Wallace.

Let's be positive and assume that the Patriots can somehow make this work. They would have Tom Brady, Wes Welker, Mike Wallace, Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. They'd have young weapons like Danny Woodhead, Stevan Ridley and Julian Edelman for support. They would also have a defense that was good enough to get them to the Super Bowl last season.

That's a good situation to have.

When it comes to plugging up all the holes on our offense and our defense, we can't have it both ways. Personally, I'll plug up our offensive holes any day of the week.

Having more brutal pass-rushers wouldn't have slowed down a guy like Eli Manning in the crunch times of those two Super Bowls. Not even the 49ers could stop Eli Manning from being Eli Manning. I'm not dismissing the importance of pass-rushers, but I'm pinpointing the ineffectiveness that they bring in the face of someone as magical as Eli Manning.

In a Super Bowl situation, playing against a guy like Eli Manning, you need offensive power to win. You need to outscore the Giants. When Eli Manning is on fire, there's not a pass-rusher in the world who will stop him. You need to simply put more points on the board.

I wouldn't be surprised if the Patriots and Giants meet again in the Super Bowl next season. Barring any unforeseen injuries, they'll be the two best teams in the league. Right now, in my mind, Eli Manning is the guy who the Patriots have to beat. Actually, Eli Manning is the guy I want the Patriots to beat. That's why I want Mike Wallace.

I want a young receiver with attitude. I want a big-time receiver who everyone else wants.

I don't want the guy who only Bill Belichick thinks will work. I don't want to roll the dice on a receiver who's past his prime. I don't want to follow the Danny Ainge method of finding over-the-hill guys who might still have some juice left in the right circumstance. I want the hot, young commodity. I want the guy who everyone agrees is awesome.

That's not an example of following the pack or falling into the mass mentality. That's the desire to win. I want to take away the guy who the Steelers would hate to lose. I want to steal the guy who everyone else wants. I want to grab the game-changer who everyone else doesn't want the Patriots to have. That guy is Mike Wallace.

Is Wallace worth giving up a first-round pick? Absolutely.

There's only a few options that come with that first-round pick: Belichick can trade down, he can spend it on a worthless rookie, he can somehow hit the jackpot on a big-time rookie (which is extremely rare), or we get a proven guy like Mike Wallace.

Trading that pick for Mike Wallace is not a wasted use of that pick. If anything, that pick would be used for a maximum effect.

I love the draft as much as any football fan, but let's not mislead ourselves into thinking that the draft is anything more than an elaborate lottery in which the losses greatly outnumber the wins.

Aaron Rodgers was the 24th pick, Joe Montana was the 82nd pick and Tom Brady was the 199th pick in their respective drafts. Victor Cruz and Arian Foster were undrafted. The Patriots' 2011 season was saved by a totally unknown guy named Sterling Moore.

To think that a first-round pick would be spent on someone better than Mike Wallace is a gigantic leap of faith. Plus, the Patriots have other draft picks to spend on rookies, so it isn't like we'd be ignoring the draft altogether. We'd simply be spending one of those picks on a proven commodity. The other picks can be used to address our concerns on defense.

At the end of the day, my argument for getting Mike Wallace is simply this: Why not? He's Mike Wallace. If you have the opportunity to put Mike Wallace in a Patriots jersey, do it. It's not a magic move that will solve every problem that the Patriots need to address, but it's a solid step in the right direction.

It's a wise gamble. Let's do it.

Next time we play the Giants, let's have Wallace on the field with Brady, Welker, Gronkowski and Hernandez.

Let the Giants try and stop that attack. 


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