Which Team is the Best Fit for Mike Wallace?
There's a reason why the growing likelihood of receiver Mike Wallace signing with the Miami Dolphins has become the worst-kept secret in all of free agency.
While other teams will be looking for free-agent receivers starting March 12, no club represents a better overall fit for Wallace than the situation in Miami.
Not only do the Dolphins have a tremendous need at receiver, but the franchise can also offer bags of money, a promising quarterback situation and the allure of Miami's location. No other NFL team can offer such a complete package.
The Dolphins' reported interest in Wallace is certainly well-documented.
Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald has reported on several occasions that the Dolphins are expected to target both Wallace and Greg Jennings in free agency, and Jeff Darlington of NFL.com reported Wednesday that Wallace is part of the "Plan A" for Miami this offseason.
Few will now question the interest from Miami's side. But the situation dictates that mutual interest between the Dolphins and Wallace is more likely than not.
The Dolphins have a glaring need for a No. 1 receiver, despite Brian Hartline's 1,000-yard season in 2012. Hartline is close to a new deal with Miami, according to Alex Marvez of FOX Sports, but he's not a prototypical top receiver, but rather a receiver that would be better suited for a complementary role.
The Dolphins can offer Wallace the chance to be a featured player on the offense, which isn't something every team can say.
The Minnesota Vikings have Percy Harvin and Adrian Peterson. Marshawn Lynch is a workhorse back in Seattle. Reggie Wayne is still a productive option for the Indianapolis Colts. And the New England Patriots have a number of offensive stars to split the spotlight with.
In Miami, Wallace would be the man.
Paying Wallace what he wants isn't much of a hurdle for the Dolphins, either. In fact, general manager Jeff Ireland appears resigned to the fact that he'll need to spend money to fix the receiver position this offseason.
According to Darlington, Ireland "undervalued" the market for free-agent receivers last March. The result was Miami coming up empty at the position, as Vincent Jackson and Pierre Garcon found big deals elsewhere.
Even if Wallace wants more than the five-year, $55.55 million deal Jackson received from Tampa Bay, the Dolphins have the available cap room to offer a satisfactory package.
According to Spotrac, Miami is currently $37.2 million underneath the 2013 cap. The Dolphins could give Wallace a $60 million deal over five years and still be comfortably under.
The Vikings have just $17.8 million in available space, which limits how big of chunk Minnesota can allot to Wallace. Handing out $12 million a season might push the Vikings to the very limits of what their 2013 cap can hold.
Which team is the best fit for Mike Wallace?
The Patriots would need to sacrifice one of their own free agents (Wes Welker, Sebastian Vollmer) to make a Wallace deal work.
The Dolphins' quarterback situation is also a promising feature worth selling to Wallace.
Second-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill (3,294 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2012) offers an up-and-coming talent who can deliver the football downfield. His upside is also likely to be much higher than that of Minnesota's Christian Ponder or Cleveland's Brandon Weeden.
Finally, if location has any importance to Wallace, living and playing in sunny Miami certainly beats alternative options in Minnesota, Cleveland or Indianapolis.
Finding fits in free agency is rarely about a player making sense on one level. For both the team and player, the fit has to work across several areas.
A number of teams make sense for Wallace with one or two factors, but the Dolphins make sense on nearly every level. It's no longer a secret that Miami can offer the kind of complete package that no other NFL city can currently match.
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