2012 NFL Free Agents: Why the Houston Texans Must Sign Mike Wallace

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2012 NFL Free Agents: Why the Houston Texans Must Sign Mike Wallace
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The Houston Texans made it to the playoffs for the first time in franchise history last season. Unfortunately by the time they got there they were without their starting quarterback Matt Schaub and star pass-rusher Mario Williams.

Rookie quarterback T.J. Yates somehow managed to lead the Texans past the Cincinnati Bengals in the Wild Card Game but was unable to pull off an improbable upset over the Baltimore Ravens

A big reason for their loss against the Ravens was the fact that Yates was caught staring down Andre Johnson. 

Still, their loss in the divisional round of the playoffs sets them up for a promising 2012 campaign.

Despite having arguably the best wide receiver in the league, the Texans are another legitimate wideout away from having the most dynamic offense in the NFL.

Enter Mike Wallace.

While he is not the biggest receiver, he may be the fastest. In his three years in the league, Wallace has quickly established himself as the most dangerous deep threat in the pro football, hence his career average of 18.7 yards per catch.

Wallace was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2009, since then he has gained 3,206 receiving yards and scored 24 touchdowns. 

Wallace became a free agent following the 2011 season and is now asking for Larry Fitzgerald-type money. Instead of signing him to a long-term contract, the Steelers made him an unrestricted free agent worth a first-round pick (plus the money his long-term deal would require).

Steep.

For most teams the price is not right. But that is not the case for Houston.

Many mock drafters are predicting that the Texans will select a wide receiver with the 26th pick of the first round. Why not get Wallace instead?

The main reason is obviously the money.

However, there are ways to free up money if they were truly interested in bringing in Wallace.

First, they would have to convince Wallace that he is not yet in Fitzgerald's category; that he needs at least three more productive seasons before he can compare himself to a future Hall of Famer.

Second, they could free up money by cutting the dead weight on their roster. For instance, Owen Daniels would become expendable if they were able to get Wallace.

But considering that Alshon Jeffery, Kendall Wright, Rueben Randle, Mohamed Sanu and Stephen Hill may all be available when Houston is on the clock, it may be tempting to save their money and go with a rookie over Wallace.

Here’s the thing. If they pick a rookie receiver (especially someone who is unpolished like Hill) they will have to pray that they are able to quickly pick up the offense, adjust to NFL speed and overcome the pressure that comes with being picked in the first round.

Which receiver should the Texans get?

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In simpler terms, you never know how a rookie will turn out once he gets to the pros (just look at Charlie Rogers, the former Detroit Lion).

With Wallace, you know exactly what you are getting: a 25-year-old receiver with unmatched speed and elite playmaking potential.

As of now, Houston is ready for the playoffs. But after winning the AFC South last season, they need more than a meager playoff win to consider 2012 a success.

Without Wallace, they are contenders. With him, they are Super Bowl contenders.

Now let us ponder what the Texans' offense could do with Johnson and Wallace on the same field.

Both receivers are deep threats but also have the ability to turn a short pass into a long gain; Johnson with his power and Wallace with his speed.

They could take turns running the top off the secondary while the other works the intermediate routes. Defenses will be forced to take away the big play, meaning that they would focus on the deep route. This would leave whichever guy is running underneath the room to get open and quickly turn up field.

And yes, we still have to think about Foster who is dangerous whether he is running the ball or catching passes out of the backfield.

The chances that the Texans actually sign Wallace are remote given his asking price. But there is no doubt that Houston is the favorite to win the AFC Championship next season if they are able to bring No. 17 to the Lone Star State.

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