NFL Free Agency: New England Patriots Smart to Show Interest in Mike Wallace
Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports
According to the Miami Herald's Armando Salguero, the Patriots have expressed interest in Wallace now that the legal tampering period has started:
Take this for what it is worth (I see it as solid). Agent just told me he hears Patriots have some interest in Mike Wallace.— Armando Salguero (@ArmandoSalguero) March 9, 2013
The Patriots are a shocking entrant into the Wallace sweepstakes considering his suitors before were considered to be a two-team race between the Miami Dolphins and Minnesota Vikings (per ESPN 1500 Twin Cities).
Showing interest is just the latest example of genius from the New England front office.
For one, the Patriots simply gain a leg up on the competition by showing interest. The Dolphins are believed to be one of the main suitors for his services given the lack of a No. 1 receiver for quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
The news suggesting New England has shown interest in Miami's reported "top priority" (per Miami Herald) during the tampering period may cause the Dolphins to increase a potential offer to Wallace even more to ward off the Patriots.
In the process of simply hinting at interest, the Patriots have given Wallace more leverage with Dolphins in negotiations, because he could simply jump to another AFC East squad and burn Miami twice a year while catching passes from Tom Brady.
Outside of potentially harming a divisional rival, the interest in Wallace has also helped the organization in its ongoing negotiations with one of its own players—wide receiver Wes Welker.
The Patriots chose to not use the franchise tag on the 31-year-old Welker, but he has yet to agree to a new deal with the team despite both sides showing optimism (per Boston Globe).
Interest in Wallace sends a clear message to Welker—the team is ready to upgrade the crop of receivers with or without him.
At the end of the day Welker will likely re-up with the team, but a little nudge from the organization in the form of Wallace certainly doesn't hurt. It is hard to imagine the 5'9" Welker would have much success outside of the Patriots' offense anyway, and he knows that as well as the team does at this point.
Outside of hurting a member of the AFC East and helping the organization in negotiation with its own, another scenario may emerge from this development—the Patriots actually land Wallace.
Think about that for a second. Brady dishing passes to Mike Wallace, Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez and potentially Welker as well.
Of course, the Patriots are not known to participate in bidding wars, and Wallace should garner one. He would have to take less money to play in New England; teams as needy as the Dolphins will throw more cash his way.
However, it is no secret the Patriots offense needs a vertical threat such as Wallace to stretch the field and open up things underneath for the tight ends. With Welker a free agent and Brandon Lloyd expected to receive walking papers (per Boston Globe), Wallace would be a welcome addition to an offense that runs through its tight ends.
Should the New England Patriots make a serious push for Mike Wallace?
In four seasons, Wallace has compiled a 17.2 yards per reception average and scored 32 touchdowns. With teams focused on Gronkowski and Hernandez, those numbers could jump with Brady under center.
As of now, "interest" is a vague term. There is nothing to say New England has proposed a contract or anything of the sort—but that could change at a moment's notice when free agency begins on March 12 at 4 p.m.
The Patriots have shown once more, by hinting at Wallace, why it is the front office to emulate in the NFL.
At worst, New England has caused some chaos in the Dolphins front office. At best, Wallace could be hauling in passes from Tom Brady for a long time.
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