March 24, 2018
In NFL free agency this offseason, a lot of stupid money went to a lot of wide receivers, each of whom have their various warts. With the Eagles having traded former No. 2 wide receiver Torrey Smith to the Carolina Panthers for a young cornerback, they were in the market for a No. 2 wide receiver.
The assumption here was that they would have to overpay for a replacement worthy of "No. 2 wide receiver status." That didn't happen.
Instead, the Eagles were able to sign veteran Mike Wallace (31) to a one-year deal worth $2.5 million, and as much as $4 million with incentives. Whether you want to call it $2.5 million or $4 million, there were 14 free agent wide receivers (and counting, maybe) who signed contracts worth at least $5 million per season. Here's how their money compares to Wallace's:
|Sammy Watkins, Chiefs||3||$48 million||$16 million|
|Jarvis Landry, Browns||1||$15.98 million||$15.98 million|
|Allen Robinson, Bears||3||$42 million||$14 million|
|Donte Moncrief, Jaguars||1||$9.6 million||$9.6 million|
|Marqise Lee, Jaguars||4||$34 million||$8.5 million|
|Paul Richardson, Redskins||5||$40 million||$8 million|
|Albert Wilson, Dolphins||3||$24 million||$8 million|
|Jordy Nelson, Raiders||2||$14.2 million||$7.1 million|
|Michael Crabtree, Ravens||3||$21 million||$7 million|
|Taylor Gabriel, Bears||4||$26 million||$6.5 million|
|Allen Hurns, Cowboys||2||$12 million||$6 million|
|Danny Amendola, Dolphins||2||$12 million||$6 million|
|John Brown, Ravens||1||$5 million||$5 million|
|Ryan Grant, Colts||1||$5 million||$5 million|
|Mike Wallace, Eagles||1||$2.5 million||$2.5 million|
As you can see, even with a contract that can grow to as much as $4 million in 2018, Wallace will still earn just a fraction of what the other receivers on the list above will be paid.
And yet, over the last two seasons, Wallace had 1765 receiving yards while playing in a Ravens offense that ranked 17th overall in 2016 and 27th in 2017. Of the receivers earning contracts worth at least $5 million per season in free agency this offseason, only Jarvis Landry had more receiving yards during that span.
|Player||Receiving yards: Last 2 years|
|Jarvis Landry, Browns||2123|
|Mike Wallace, Eagles||1765|
|Jordy Nelson, Raiders||1739|
|Michael Crabtree, Ravens||1621|
|Marqise Lee, Jaguars||1553|
|Sammy Watkins, Chiefs||1023|
|Paul Richardson, Redskins||991|
|Allen Hurns, Cowboys||961|
|Taylor Gabriel, Bears||957|
|Danny Amendola, Dolphins||902|
|Allen Robinson, Bears||900|
|Albert Wilson, Dolphins||833|
|John Brown, Ravens||816|
|Donte Moncrief, Jaguars||698|
|Ryan Grant, Colts||649|
In Philadelphia, Wallace will serve as the fourth receiving option in the offense, behind Zach Ertz, Alshon Jeffery, and Nelson Agholor. Opposing defenses will have to respect Wallace's deep speed, which should open up the intermediate areas of the field. He'll essentially have the same role as Torrey Smith, but with better speed and hands.
So if Wallace is such an obvious upgrade over Smith, why were the Eagles able to sign him to such a reasonable deal?
Is he a bad guy? Apparently not. In Baltimore, Wallace was reportedly very well liked both by his teammates and the media, according to Ravens beat writer Jeff Zrebiec.
Wallace was easily one of the most popular and well-liked Ravens in the locker room, both by teammates and media members. https://t.co/vOnVuR0voc— Jeff Zrebiec (@jeffzrebiecsun) March 23, 2018
Wallace spent one lackluster year in Minnesota, where head coach Mike Zimmer spoke glowingly about him after his release, via Ben Goessling of ESPN.
"I would like him back. I love the kid, I love his heart," he said. "He didn't bitch one time about not getting the ball. He just went and worked every day and tried to get guys better. He loves it here, he loves Teddy. If it can get worked out, I'd like to have him back. But I want to do what's best for Mike Wallace, too. I told most of the players that are free agents that I want them to do what's best for them."
So is it just that he's old?
That would be my best guess, though the "old guy market" is one that Howie Roseman capitalized on last offseason.
In 2017, DE Chris Long and CB Patrick Robinson were signed three weeks into free agency, while LeGarrette Blount (May), Corey Graham (August), and Dannell Ellerbe (November) were just sitting on the street waiting for someone to sign them long after many of their less talented peers had already signed deals with teams around the league. They were all also dirt cheap.
Youth is good, if you're looking to develop players over time and hit a home run on a budding prospect. However, Roseman's 'old guy' strategy paid off in the short term in a huge way for the Eagles in 2017. It would appear he's trying to make it work with Wallace once again in 2018.
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