Peyton Manning: Broncos Must Target Mike Wallace to Give Manning More Weapons
One man does not a Super Bowl contender make, even if that one man happens to be Peyton Manning.
Of this, the Denver Broncos should be acutely aware, especially with their team as currently constituted.
And while Manning may be the NFL equivalent of Steve Nash—a player who controls the game with pinpoint precision and turns scrapheap types into stars—he'll need better weapons around him than what the Broncos currently have on offer.
Someone with blazing speed who can run crisp deep routes, like Demaryius Thomas...but better.
Someone with Velcro mitts who hauls in just about every ball that comes his way, like Eric Decker...but better.
You know, someone like Mike Wallace.
The best wide receiver on the free agent market. A 25-year-old Pro Bowl speed demon who's racked up 3,206 yards and 24 touchdowns over the course of his first three NFL seasons.
Should the Broncos sign Mike Wallace?
Numbers that, when considered in context, might've actually undersold Wallace's true talents. As Grantland's Bill Barnwell points out, Wallace's production was held back by both the Pittsburgh Steelers' relatively plodding style of play on offense as well as by the frequent absence of Ben Roethlisberger, whether due to injury or suspension.
Of course, Manning's health will be a big question mark, as nobody will really know to what extent he's recovered from his four neck surgeries until he takes the field in an actual game. What's more, there's no telling at what pace Manning's Broncos will play, at least compared to the Indianapolis Colts of yore, nor how Peyton will adjust to playing outdoors most of the time.
That being said, should Wallace end up in the Mile High City, he'd be going from a team that had the fewest offensive possessions in football to the one that ended up with the most, according to Football Outsiders.
Not that the Broncos need be concerned about Wallace's productivity. Rather, it would make sense to suggest that Denver's offense would rack up even more possessions with a quick-strike offense led by Manning.
The point remains, the Broncos will need to add a legitimate deep threat to their roster if they're keen to maximize Manning's value, which they certainly should after dropping $96 million (over five years) on him.
Adding Wallace would be a tremendous step in that direction, even if it requires that the Broncos surrender their first-round pick to the Steelers for their restricted free agent. Wallace will cost a pretty penny himself, but Denver should still have plenty of room left under the cap after paying Peyton's ransom.
Ultimately, if you're John Elway—or any other executive, really—you don't go out and sign a once-in-a-generation superstar like Peyton Manning unless you're ready to go all in, unless you're prepared to spend your way into Super Bowl contention. The added expense of Mike Wallace would be well worth it for the Broncos.
Because, as seismic a shift as Manning's sojourn to the Rocky Mountains may be, the future Hall-of-Famer can't move heaven and earth for a Vince Lombardi Trophy all by his lonesome.
He'll need a fleet-footed friend to survey the landscape, someone like Mike.
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