What's Next for the Miami Dolphins After Signing WR Mike Wallace?

Erik Frenz@ErikFrenzSenior Writer IMarch 12, 2013

PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 09:  Mike Wallace #17 of the Pittsburgh Steelers reacts with fans after his touchdown in the third quarter against the San Diego Chargers on December 9, 2012 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. San Diego won the game 34-24.  (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Miami Dolphins fans, meet your shiny new deep threat.

The rumors ran rampant for weeks, and now it's official: the Dolphins have inked wide receiver Mike Wallace to bolster their passing game.

We've talked at length about what he could bring to the offense.

His ability to stretch the field was sorely missing from Miami's passing game last year; it looked as though they were stuck in a red-zone offense all the way up the field. Words can't accurately describe the stress that puts on the quarterback and receivers.

Now, if Wallace's speed remains what it's been for years with Pittsburgh, safeties won't be able to sit on routes 10 yards off the line of scrimmage anymore. Ryan Tannehill didn't throw the ball down the field frequently (10.5 percent of his attempts traveled 20 yards or more through the air), but he had a high accuracy rate on such throws (ranked ninth with 43.1 percent accuracy, with drops counting as completions).

Brian Hartline will certainly be happy—at least happier than he was after signing a five-year, $30.775 million deal last week—now that the attention won't be all on him in Miami's passing game. He's not likely to improve on his 74-catch, 1,083-yard season with some of those targets going to Wallace now, but Hartline and Davone Bess could do more damage on yards after the catch with more room underneath.

We've also touched on what this means for the balance of power in Miami's offense. With Wallace in and running back Reggie Bush likely out, this will probably be the final nail in the coffin for the run-heavy offense implemented during the Tony Sparano era.

What's next for the Dolphins?

Tight end Anthony Fasano departed for the Kansas City Chiefs moments after free agency opened, so unless they're rolling with Charles Clay and Michael Egnew (which wouldn't be a wise move), Miami will need to add talent at tight end. The two have combined for 34 career receptions (all of which belong to Clay) against Fasano's 205, so there are some big shoes to fill with some tiny feet.

The market has been quiet for cornerback Sean Smith so far, but whether he stays or goes, the Dolphins could use another starting cornerback (and if he goes, make it two starting cornerbacks). Is Nolan Carroll a long-term answer at cornerback? I'm not feeling comfortable about that.

It's been clear for awhile that running back Reggie Bush is on his way out, leaving the Dolphins with Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas as their top two options at running back. There are rumors (via The Miami Herald) that the Dolphins are interested in running back Rashard Mendenhall, and certainly Mendenhall would help round out the depth chart a bit (assuming he can stay healthy).

Left tackle Jake Long is scheduled to visit the Rams and could be on his way out. The Dolphins could move right tackle Jonathan Martin permanently to the left side, where he started five games, and have Nate Garner serve as the starter at right tackle, where he started four games (but that's just my hare-brained theory). 

As I type this, the Dolphins are working on a deal with linebacker Dannell Ellerbe which will pay him $35 million over five years (according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports), thereby addressing a need I didn't even really know they had. 

The Dolphins are not off to a quiet start in free agency. Clearly, though, their work is far from done.


Erik Frenz is the AFC East lead blogger for Bleacher Report. Be sure to follow Erik on Twitter and "like" the AFC East blog on Facebook to keep up with all the updates.