By Chris Perkins and Omar Kelly
South Florida Sun Sentinel
4:17 PM EDT, March 12, 2013
The Miami Dolphins burst into free agency Tuesday by signing high-profile wide receiver Mike Wallace, the top free agent on the market and one of the best deep threats in the NFL.
Wallace inked a five-year contract worth $65 million, with $30 million guaranteed.
Wallace more than fulfills the Dolphins' stated goal of wanting to get play-makers this offseason. The speedy free agent from the Pittsburgh Steelers, provides the downfield big-play threat Miami’s pedestrian passing offense has been missing for years.
Last season, he had 64 receptions for 836 yards and eight touchdowns. Two years ago, he had 114 receptions for 1,193 yards and eight touchdowns.
The fact that Wallace signed with the Dolphins on Tuesday, the first day teams were able to sign free agents, also speaks volumes of the job general manager Jeff Ireland was able to do in recruiting the four-year veteran.
During last month’s NFL Scouting Combine, Ireland said he didn’t necessarily need to sign a big-name, high-dollar free agent. He said the goal is to sign someone who would help the team.
“If that particular player we think is going to help our football team move forward and take a big step, and if he has a big name, great,” Ireland said.
The major knock on Wallace is he has a tendency to drop passes. He had five drops through six games last season, including four in a game against Cincinnati. But that was unusual. Wallace had never dropped more than four passes in season prior to last year.
The way things appear now, Wallace will team with fellow wide receiver Brian Hartline and slot receiver Davone Bess to form the basis of the wide receiver corps for quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
The Dolphins, who began Tuesday’s free agency signing period with $31 million, are still thought to be in the running for Tennessee tight end Jared Cook, who has the skills to run the seam route (down the hashmarks) and make plays in the red zone (inside the opponents’ 20-yard line), another missing element of the Dolphins’ offense.
The Dolphins seemingly have placed a premium on improving their passing offense.
Last season, Miami was 26thin passing offense; two seasons ago they were 23rd.
Last year, Miami was 27thin scoring at 18.0 points per game; two seasons ago they were 20th at 20.6 points per game.
Wallace should help improve those numbers. And his ability to get open deep should open up underneath routes for Bess and the tight ends. The attention Wallace commands should make life easier for Hartline on the other side.
The fact that Wallace is an established deep threat should also help Tannehill in his second year in the league.
Ireland and the Dolphins still have to make a multitude of other acquisitions via free agency and the draft for this to be declared a successful off-season, but Wallace’s signing gets things off to a bold and dramatic start.
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