Grading Miami Dolphins Signing of Mike Wallace

Gary Davenport@@IDPSharksNFL AnalystMarch 12, 2013

Grading Miami Dolphins Signing of Mike Wallace

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    The first big domino in the 2013 edition of NFL free agency has fallen.

    The Miami Dolphins, who have long been rumored to be the leading candidates to sign free-agent wide receiver Mike Wallace, have agreed to terms on a five-year, $65 million contract with the 26-year-old wideout, according to Chris Perkins of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

    It's a significant investment for a team in desperate need of a true No. 1 receiver.

    Here's a look at how things could shake out for the Dolphins with Wallace in Miami.

Fit: Hand, Meet Glove

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    There's a reason why the Miami Dolphins didn't waste any time throwing a ton of money at Mike Wallace.

    The team was absolutely desperate for a top-flight wide receiver.

    The team recently re-upped with 2012 receiving leader Brian Hartline on a five-year deal of his own, but while Hartline topped 1,000 yards last year, he also caught all of one touchdown pass.

    That just isn't going to cut it.

    The signing of Wallace will allow Hartline to be what he is: a complementary receiver.

    It also provides quarterback Ryan Tannehill and the Miami offense with a vertical threat they were sorely lacking a year ago. While Tannehill didn't get a chance to show off his arm strength in 2012, things are going to be very different this year.

    In this respect, it's hard not to like the move.

    Grade: A

Ability: Mike Wallace Can Play

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    I don't think you're going to find too many people who question Mike Wallace's physical ability.

    Since Wallace's breakout sophomore season, the youngster has done plenty of damage in the NFL, averaging over 60 catches, 1,000 yards and eight touchdowns a season over the past three years.

    Wallace has also averaged nearly 17 yards a catch over that stretch, and even in last year's disappointing season, Wallace found the end zone eight times for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

    Add in that Wallace is only 26, and the Dolphins not only got arguably the top wide receiver in this year's free-agent class, but they got one in his prime.

    Grade: A-

Price: That's a Lot of Cabbage

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    OK, so no contract is perfect.

    There's a problem with signing prominent players in the opening hours of free agency: You usually end up overpaying.

    $13 million a season is a lot to pay for any player, especially one who's considered something of a one-trick pony.

    However, the Dolphins may not have had much choice.

    After trading Percy Harvin, the Minnesota Vikings were rumored to have significant interest in Wallace, and the Dolphins may well have feared that if Wallace left Miami without a deal, he wasn't coming back.

    Grade: C

Risk: Well, Yeah It's Risky...It's $13 Million Bucks!

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    Any time you commit well north of $50 million to a free agent, that move is going to carry with it a significant risk.

    The Mike Wallace contract is going to have a big impact on the Dolphins' salary cap for the next several years, and the last thing the Dolphins need as they rebuild is a free-agent bust saddling the team with a ton of "dead" money.

    And there is a chance that Wallace could bust.

    As I alluded to earlier, Wallace is something of a one-trick wide receiver, relying almost exclusively on his speed to get open, and his attitude at times has been less than exemplary.

    With that said, the Dolphins needed to upgrade at wide receiver badly, so it's a risk Miami didn't think twice about taking.

    Grade: B-

Overall: If You Want to Make an Omelette

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    On one hand, the Dolphins are taking a very big chance by paying $13 million a season to a temperamental wide receiver who has shown that if his head isn't in the game, his production falls off.

    Especially when you take into consideration how this move affects Miami's ability to acquire other pieces, or retain their own free agents.

    However, the Miami Dolphins had one glaring need offensively last year: The team had no No. 1 wide receiver.

    The Dolphins have now addressed that need, and while it didn't come cheaply, the Mike Wallace signing was a move that needed to be made.

    Overall Grade: B+