Mike Wallace is set to become a rich young man in free agency, but in the end, he'll be a tremendous disappointment for the team that lands him.
According to the National Football Post's Dan Pompei, Wallace's free-agent contract is expected to be worth upwards of $13 million per season.
That's the kind of money that should only be paid to do-it-all, legitimate No. 1 receivers like Larry Fitzgerald or Calvin Johnson, both of whom are far and away superior to Wallace in every single way except for one aspect: speed.
According to Pompei's report, a personnel director from one NFC team said:
Mike Wallace is more of an outside vertical guy, but he doesn’t go inside much. He isn’t real strong run after catch. He’s pretty good at comebacks and hitches because defenders play off him since they have to respect his speed.
There are speedy receivers coming into the league every single year that can take the top off of defenses. T.Y. Hilton is an excellent example of a player that came in as a rookie and produced at a high level for his team, using speed as his main weapon to catch 50 passes for 861 yards and seven touchdowns.
Players like Cordarrelle Patterson, Tavon Austin, Justin Hunter, Markus Wheaton and Marquise Goodwin will all be just as adept at running deep routes in 2013 as Wallace.
Wallace excels when running deep bend routes up the seam, post routes and fly routes, but that's about all he's good for. Don't ask Wallace to go over the middle and make the tough catch in traffic, because he will fail to make the play more often than not.
The most important thing a receiver needs to be able to do is catch the ball, and Wallace struggles with this simple task. Last year, he only caught 54.9 percent of his targets in 2012, ranking him 77th out of 107 qualifying receivers (h/t Pro Football Focus; subscription required).
Another area of Wallace's game that is less than ideal is that he's not a particularly willing/able run-blocker. The 6'0", 199-pound receiver isn't a physically imposing player, and he doesn't use his body well to shield off running lanes on the outside.
Former four-time NFL Executive of the Year Bill Polian recently hosted a conference call with the media. In that call, the ESPN analyst revealed that when he was with the Colts, he and his staff concluded that 50 percent of free agents end up as successful additions to their new clubs (h/t the Miami Herald's Armando Salguero).
Free agents are a huge risk, no matter what.
But when a player like Wallace—essentially a one-trick pony who isn't particularly adept at catching the ball—hits the market, the risk is exponentially greater that he'll end up as a huge free-agent bust.
Buyer beware, Wallace isn't worth the risk.
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