Mike Wallace brought it up in his final meeting with Ravens wide receivers coach Bobby Engram last year. At the time, it wasn't a guarantee that the Ravens would pick up his contract option for 2017, but Wallace was already preparing to return as the elder statesman of a position group that would no longer include retiring Steve Smith Sr.
"I just have to curse a couple more people out, choke a couple more people out. I was telling Bobby last meeting that I’ve got to come back in with a different attitude and I’ve got to start pushing people around a little bit more, because Steve isn’t going to be here and somebody has to do it," Wallace said Wednesday after the second day of the offseason workout program. "So, I’m going to take over that role. Breshad [Perriman], if he gets out of line, I’m going to smack him up a little bit. Anybody, no matter who it is. So, I’ve got to take on the Steve role."
Wallace, of course, was joking about physically harming his teammates. However, he's serious about taking on a bigger leadership role.
The Ravens would certainly welcome that with what figures to be an extremely young wide receiver group, barring a veteran free-agent addition late this offseason.
"Last year was just scrambling around and trying to learn a whole new playbook and things like that, but this year it’s much easier for me," Wallace said. "I’m comfortable, I know all my teammates, I know all my coaches, so it’s just like coming into home. It’s great, and just to have continuity, coming back to the same spot, and everybody knows me and what to expect from me. I just want to be a leader for this team.”
After being traded by the Miami Dolphins after the 2014 season and released by the Minnesota Vikings the following year, Wallace signed a two-year deal with the Ravens last March and vowed that he had plenty of good football left.
The 30-year-old proved that, catching 72 balls for 1,017 yards and four touchdowns while playing all 16 games for the seventh time in his eight NFL seasons.
However, the way the season ended with the Ravens missing the playoffs and with Wallace failing to find the end zone over the final eight games left a bad taste in his mouth.
Wallace said that he wants to “prove the same thing, but make more plays for my team down the stretch. Continue what I started at the beginning of the year and just make it stretch throughout the whole entire season, through the playoffs and hopefully through the Super Bowl.”
There was some debate from outside the organization about whether the Ravens would pick up Wallace's option because he counted for $8 million against the 2017 salary cap. However, Wallace says he never doubted he would be back and joked Wednesday that it was a "smart decision" by the Ozzie Newsome-led front office.
"I’m just ready to play football," he said. "I made a lot of money, and I don’t really look into … I want to make some more money though, don’t get it twisted. I just take it one day at a time. I’m not getting too caught up into that. I’m just here to play football, like I said, have a positive attitude towards my teammates and be a great leader. Everything else will take care of itself.”