Mike Wallace and What's Next for Elway, Manning and the Denver Broncos
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Winning the Peyton Manning sweepstakes was only half the battle for John Elway and the Denver Broncos. But now that Manning will officially be the next quarterback in orange and blue, it's critical that Elway and the Broncos' upper management continue to make moves that will improve the Broncos' chances of achieving the ultimate goal: Bringing another Lombardi Trophy to Denver.
At this point in free agency, many of the big name, marquee free agents are gone. Wide receivers like Brandon Lloyd, Robert Meachem, Eddie Royal and especially Reggie Wayne and Pierre Garçon who would've received considerable interest by the new-look Broncos are already locked up.
And while there are remaining free agent wide receivers that can bring something to the table, the most intriguing free agent receiver can still be had for a price. Mike Wallace of the Pittsburgh Steelers was tendered for a first round pick, meaning that if any team makes an offer for Wallace, the Steelers have a chance to match it. If they fail to match the offer, Pittsburgh will receive the first round pick of the team who made the offer.
Even with Manning's new contract on the books, Denver still has more cap space than they know what to do with. Pittsburgh, on the other hand, has been cutting veteran players left and right in an attempt to make more. The Broncos boast two solid, young receivers in Eric Decker (who trailed only Calvin Johnson Jr. in touchdowns for a solid chunk of the season) and Demaryius Thomas (who came up big in the playoff game against the Steelers and flashed his potential against the Vikings in week 13 with 4 rec for 144 yards and 2 TDs).
While Decker and Thomas provide the Broncos with a solid foundation for a successful passing game, the receiving corps is weak behind them. Mike Wallace was a pro bowl starter for the AFC, catching 73 passes for almost 1,200 yards and 8 TDs. He tied for 15th in yards per reception in the 2011 season, after leading the AFC in yards per in 2010.
Should Denver forfeit the 25th overall pick to add Wallace?
Because Denver is drafting at the 25th slot in the first round, the argument could easily be made that forfeiting that pick to add Mike Wallace to the roster would be a greater addition to the team than whatever player Denver could select in the first round. And Mike Wallace is still young, having been drafted himself in 2009.
Frankly, it's surprising that teams in need of a good wide receiver with even higher first round selections haven't made a play for Wallace. This receiver class appears to be relatively weak outside of Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon due to a poor showing by Baylor's Kendall Wright at the combine, and the weight and motivation concerns surrounding South Carolina's Alshon Jeffery.
And if Denver signs Wallace, they will still have enough cap space to sign a player to address whatever issue they would have with their first round pick. Saints CB Tracy Porter is visiting Denver soon, and Denver could still look at re-signing DT Brodrick Bunkley or adding another defensive tackle, like Saints DT Aubrayo Franklin.
In any event, adding Wallace to the already formidable offense of Manning, McGahee, Decker and Thomas would make Denver downright dangerous. And due to the lack of interest by other teams in former Indianapolis TEs Jacob Tamme and Dallas Clark, the Broncos could quickly become THE most prolific offense in the NFL next season.
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