A day after signing safety Eric Weddle, the Ravens reached an agreement with wide receiver Mike Wallace on Tuesday. According to reports, the deal is for two years and $11.5 million.
Wallace (29) was released by the Vikings at the start of free agency after posting career-lows in reception yards (473). The Vikings acquired Wallace through a trade with the Dolphins, and received a seventh round draft pick as well in exchange for a fifth round pick. Wallace was playing under a five year, $60 million contract that the Dolphins signed him to in 2013 after spending his first four seasons in the NFL with the Steelers. The Steelers drafted Wallace in the third round of the 2009 NFL Draft out of Ole Miss.
Ever since Wallace left the Steelers, he has not been the same player. In his time with Pittsburgh Wallace had over 1,000 receiving yards twice – in 2010 and 2011. In the 2010 season he also caught 10 touchdown passes, and was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2011.
Many will say that a big reason of why Wallace could not replicate the same numbers he had in Pittsburgh was that he did not have a quarterback that could throw the deep ball in either Miami or Minnesota. Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill and Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater are not known for being deep-ball passers. Wallace took the top off of defenses during his time with the Steelers and had an all-pro quarterback in Ben Roethlisberger throwing to him.
Wallace took an indirect shot at Teddy Bridgewater in a statement he said at his introductory press conference on Tuesday:
“When this process started, I knew I wasn’t going back to Minnesota. I was like, ‘I need a good quarterback,’ I need a quarterback who is proven and can get things done. Flacco has always been that guy.”
It is clear that Wallace was not happy with the quarterback play of his recent teams, and he will have a good chance to revive his career working with Joe Flacco. Flacco is known for having one of the best arms in football, and will certainly be able to throw Wallace some deep passes throughout games.
Wallace will join a wide receiver unit that had some injury problems last year, but could be a very solid unit if they all stay healthy. Steve Smith Sr. tore his Achilles tendon midway through the 2015 season, and rookie Breshad Perriman never saw the field after hurting his knee in training camp. With both Smith Sr. and Perriman expected back in by training camp, Wallace and Kamar Aiken will likely join them as the team’s top four receivers. There are other talented young receivers on the team as well, such as Jeremy Butler and Michael Campanaro.
Wallace is the third veteran the Ravens have signed this offseason in free agency. Safety Eric Weddle was signed on Monday, and tight end Benjamin Watson was signed last week. The Ravens are clearly looking for veterans to lead the team after struggling to make plays in 2015.
Making the playoffs is an expectation that Ravens fans have now after the team has made it six out of the last eight seasons. Through bringing in all of these players in free agency, the Ravens front office is making it clear that they want to get back to the playoffs in 2016 and beyond, making the 2015 season one to forget.