The Miami Dolphins are reportedly going to chase hard after wide receiver Mike Wallace, but the team would be foolish to make him its highest-paid player.
According to the Miami Herald's Armando Salguero, that's exactly what the team is considering:
...let me say it one more time as I've been saying it since January, the Dolphins will chase Mike Wallace in free agency...Mike Wallace will cost more than what Dwayne Bowe cost the Chiefs.
That means the Dolphins must be prepared to climb the money mountain well past the $11.2 million per year plateau to get Wallace. And they must be prepared to not only make him one of the NFL's highest-paid receivers, but also the club's highest paid player.
There's no doubt that bringing in Wallace would be a boon for Ryan Tannehill and the team's offense—especially given his ability to stretch the field.
That said, the Dolphins would be crazy to pay Wallace more than any other player on the team. He is a talented young receiver, but by no means is Wallace one of the best players in the league—let alone one of the top-10 receivers in the NFL.
Wallace arguably wasn't even the best receiver on the Pittsburgh Steelers roster the past couple of seasons. It's telling that the Steelers had no problem giving Antonio Brown a long-term contract instead of signing Wallace, locking him in with a six-year deal worth $43 million last summer.
In 15 games last year with the Steelers, Wallace caught 64 passes for 836 yards and eight touchdowns. His best season with Pittsburgh came in 2010, when he caught 60 passes for 1,257 yards and 10 touchdowns.
If we compare Wallace's best seasons in every statistic with the top receivers in the NFL last year, here's how he stacks up:
|Category||Wallace's Best||Compared to 2012's Best|
|Receptions||72 (2011)||No. 48|
|Yards||1,257 (2010)||No. 11|
|Touchdowns||10 (2010)||No. 7|
It's important to note that Wallace has been catching passes from Ben Roethlisberger—one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL—the past four years. There's no guarantee he'll come close to matching any of his top marks with second-year quarterback Tannehill as his facilitator.
Furthermore, with the wealth of young talent available at the wide receiver position in this year's draft, it would be insane to spend such a fortune on a player who doesn't match up with the best players at his position in the NFL.
Cordarrelle Patterson may be available at No. 12 when the Dolphins pick in Round 1. He's a dynamic playmaker who has the potential to be a dominant No. 1 receiver, and he'd be far cheaper to sign than Wallace.
Even if the Steelers wait until the second or third round to find a receiver, opting instead to sign a top-ranked cornerback or defensive end, there is plenty of talent to be found. DeAndre Hopkins, Terrance Williams, Justin Hunter, Da'Rick Rogers and Quinton Patton would all be terrific players who could step in and contribute right away.
Should the Dolphins spend the money it'll take to sign Wallace or build through the draft?
Wallace would be a dangerous weapon for Tannehill, and the Dolphins could certainly benefit from his presence in the lineup. That said, the cost is simply to exorbitant.
Sure, the Dolphins have plenty of money to spend, but a better strategy would be to continue building this young team through the draft and make wiser decisions with the team's supply of cash.
Follow me on Twitter @JesseReed78