We are on the cusp of free agency madness right now. Much of the FA talk around these parts centers on Mike Wallace. The Steelers receiver is rumored to be on the Vikings’ radar screens. Should the Vikings go after Wallace or stay away? Here are five reasons why they should stay away.
1. He has free agent bust written all over him.
Two words: Bernard Berrian. That was the last free agent speed receiver the Vikings signed to big money. And how did that work out? Berrian was good for one year and then became an unproductive player with a massively bad attitude. After that one decent season Berrian just became a drain on cap space and a drain on everyone’s patience. Now of course, Wallace has more good years under his belt than Berrian did before the Vikings signed him. Wallace is a more proven player than Berrian was before the Vikes gave him that money. But Wallace still has that odor about him of a guy who looks good on paper but is ultimately not worth the big contract.
2. He may have a bad attitude.
Wallace was not a happy camper last year in Pittsburgh. He wanted a new contract and Pittsburgh didn’t want to give him a new contract. So he threatened to hold out. He ultimately didn’t hold out, but when he showed up for work he reportedly wasn’t entirely engaged. And that lack of engagement may have contributed to a down year for him statistically. And remember it was his contract year. Normally guys lay it all out there in their contract year. But this guy pouted a little and wasn’t really into it. That’s a red flag if I ever saw one. The Vikings really don’t need that kind of attitude in their locker room.
3. There are better options out there. Like for instance Greg Jennings.
Is Mike Wallace even the #1 free agent receiver? That’s debatable. Some would argue Greg Jennings brings more to the table. Jennings may not have the pure speed but he’s a more well-rounded, proven commodity at the position. And Jennings has some veteran savvy and that would be helpful to Christian Ponder. Of course Jennings has his downside. He’s coming off an injury-plagued season and may no longer be the player he was a few years ago. Rick Spielman and his staff will have to weigh all this stuff and decide which guy is more worth pursuing. Maybe neither guy is worth pursuing.
4. Forget free agents, build through the draft.
Rick Spielman has hammered this point into our heads over the last couple years. Spending on big name free agents is not the way to go. It’s all about building through the draft and being smart with free agent money. There is something to be said for that philosophy. So if you buy into that, it doesn’t make sense at all to go after Wallace who is likely to be overvalued in the current market. It makes more sense to draft a good receiver in the first round and spend your money on a B-level guy who might be ready to take the next step. That would be the Spielman way. If Spielman is truly sincere about sticking with that approach.
5. If you give Mike Wallace big money, how will you pay Percy Harvin?
Fans want it all. They want Mike Wallace – or Greg Jennings – and they also want to give Percy Harvin a new big money deal. But is that even realistic? Can the Vikings afford to pay two receivers that kind of dough? Does it even make sense to lay out that kind of money on receivers when you’re a run-heavy team in the first place? And you have a questionable quarterback situation? I don’t think it really makes sense at all. I don’t think this team in particular can afford to tie that much money up in two receivers. So to me, if you give a ton of money to Mike Wallace or anyone else in free agency, you’re basically slamming the door on Percy Harvin getting a long-term deal. You’re saying farewell to Percy Harvin. Maybe you don’t turn right around and trade him, but you definitely don’t give him the extension. And you certainly don’t bid to keep him at the end of the season.
So if you’re a fan pining for Wallace, ask yourself the question. I love this guy for our team but would I rather have him or Percy? Cause I don’t think you get to have both.