Pro Bowl wide receiver Mike Wallace is among the fastest, most gifted playmakers in football, but he'll be playing for a third team in as many seasons in 2016.
After an underwhelming season with the Minnesota Vikings, Wallace and the Baltimore Ravens agreed to a contract Tuesday, the Ravens announced.
Citing a source, Adam Schefter of ESPN reported that the deal will be for two years and $11.5 million. On Wednesday, Tom Pelissero of USA Today noted the deal is really for one year and $5.75 million with an option for another season worth $5.75 million.
Pelissero noted Wallace got $4.5 million to sign in Baltimore with a $1 million bonus due in March of 2017.
The Ravens provided comments from Wallace, who spoke about the impact Steve Smith had on his decision:
Wallace was recruited heavily by Steve Smith. https://t.co/T8Fw2ljplO— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) March 15, 2016
"This is a guy who changes the face of our offense dramatically," head coach John Harbaugh said.
Despite a lackluster 2015 campaign in which Wallace posted a career-low 473 receiving yards, Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer hoped he'd return next season, via the Star Tribune's Mark Craig:
I was disappointed and, really, I'm disappointed more so that it wasn't the season that he wanted or we wanted. I say this from my heart: I love this kid, I love the way he works, I love the way he competes. I texted him last night basically and told him the same thing.
I said, "You know, I know this wasn't exactly how we planned it out." But I love him as a person, a competitor, a football player and I’m disappointed that it didn't pan out the way I envisioned it and that really and honestly, he's always going to be one of my kind of guys. I like this kid.
It didn't count against Minnesota in dead salary-cap money to cut Wallace loose, as noted by Spotrac. Otherwise, the Vikings would have had to pay him $11.5 million in 2016.
The Ravens will have to hope they're getting the Wallace who once starred for the Pittsburgh Steelers and maintained an upbeat attitude despite a diminished role in Minnesota. Zimmer's testimony seems to suggest Wallace is not the malcontent free-agent bust he was with the Miami Dolphins.
The Ravens have been trying to fill a void at wide receiver for quite some time. Last year, the team drafted Breshad Perriman in the first round before placing him on the IR with a knee injury at the onset of the season.
Twenty-six-year-old Kamar Aiken showed promise in 2015, gaining a career-high 944 yards, but the unit could use a boost, even with the return of veteran wideout Smith. The team has been looking to find the same sort of explosiveness it saw from Torrey Smith before he left for the San Francisco 49ers after the 2014 season.
The risk in acquiring Wallace at such a relative bargain is quite minimal considering what the potential returns could be. Minnesota wasn't the best fit for the 29-year-old because Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater couldn't threaten defenses with the deep ball, limiting Wallace's upside.
Between Ryan Tannehill and Bridgewater, Wallace hasn't been playing with the best deep-ball throwers in recent years. Perhaps the story will be different with the Ravens, who may be more equipped to capitalize on Wallace's skill set, particularly because of Joe Flacco's deep-ball prowess.
Minnesota made a bold choice in letting Wallace walk without any compensation or bringing him back at a relatively minimal cost. Bridgewater led what was the NFL's 31st-ranked passing offense in 2015 and needs some help to ensure he stays on course as the Vikings' QB of the future.