Mike Wallace: Is He Worth The 27th Pick?

Could Aaron Hernandez be on the other side of that touchdown celebration next September?

NEPD Editor: Doug Kyed

If you follow me on Twitter, then you should already know my slightly controversial answer.

No.

But 140 characters can be difficult at times to truly convey the reasons for my opinion.

Before I get started, know this: I think Mike Wallace is a tremendous player. Well worth a first round pick to many teams. The speed and electricity he brings to the field can be and is a huge weapon.

That being said, here are my reasons why I believe it is not a good idea for the Patriots to give up their 27th pick for Wallace:

HIS GREATEST VALUE IS THE DEEP THREAT HE BRINGS

Please do not think I am criticizing Tom Brady. He is the best quarterback we have seen since Joe Montana, and there are certainly times where I think he may be the best QB ever.

But the deep ball is not his strong suit.

According to Pro Football Focus, in 2011 Brady was 16th in the league in passing accuracy over twenty yards. That was right between Carson Palmer and Colt McCoy. He attempted 60 passes, 20 for completions including five drops. His deep ball accuracy % was 41.7.

In 2010 he was 11th at 44.4 and in 2009, yes with Randy Moss, and yes coming off ACL surgery, he was 28th at 32.3.

Why does Brady struggle with the deep ball? Because he’s lost some arm strength over the years. He’s going to be 35 in the 2012 season, and arm strength does diminish over a QB’s career. Luckily Brady’s accuracy keeps getting better, so we haven’t seen a drop off in overall talent.

This year alone, we saw Brady under throw deep passes to Matthew Slater, Chad Ochocinco, Tiquan Underwood and Aaron Hernandez. None of those players are as fast as Mike Wallace.

MIKE WALLACE IS NOT RANDY MOSS

But didn’t Tom Brady have success on the deep ball before?

Yes, in 2007 he and Randy Moss were very successful with one another, and even in ‘09 they seemed to have a connection.

But Moss and Wallace are very different deep threats.

Moss has success with physicality, speed and going up to get the ball in the air. Brady could afford to under throw Moss, because of his ability to go up and get the ball with his leaping ability and pushing off of defenders.

Wallace is the kind of player that you throw the ball far out, and let him outrun his defenders with his sudden burst to go and get it. Brady doesn’t have that kind of arm.

Vincent Jackson is more of the deep threat that the Patriots could have used, as he’s more like Moss.

The fact that Brady was under throwing Slater, Ochocinco, etc. is a big problem if Wallace hopes to have the same impact he had in Pittsburgh for the Patriots.

FREE AGENT WIDE RECEIVERS ARE A CRAP SHOOT

Especially in New England.

Here are the wide receivers the Patriots have signed or traded for since 2000: Aaron Bailey, Tony Gaiter, Chris Calloway, Bert Emanuel, Charles Johnson, Sean Morey, David Patten, Torrance Small, Donald Hayes, Dedric Ward, Michael Jennings, Eugene Baker, Rich Musinski, Jake Schifino, David Terrell, Tim Dwight, Andre Davis, Reche Caldwell, Keron Henry, Musinski, Zuriel Smith, John Stone, Doug Gabriel, Kelvin Kight, C.J. Jones, Jabar Gaffney, Randy Moss, Donte Stallworth, Kelley Washington, Wes Welker, Sam Aiken, Robert Ortiz, Joey Galloway, Greg Lewis, Isaiah Stanback, Torry Holt, David Patten, Tyree Barnes, Chad Ochocino, Tiquan Underwood.

That’s a pretty motley list. Patten (first time around), Gaffney, Moss and Welker were the only real hits among a slew of misses.

And that’s because the Patriots complex offense is well, complex.

You must be on the same page as Tom Brady, and you must be able to run option routes and see the same things in reading the opposing defense that he sees.

We saw it first hand this season with Ochocinco. By all accounts, Ocho should have worked out. He’s a crisp route runner, great hands, intermediate threat, but he couldn’t learn the offense and he could not read an opposing defense.

I fear the same may hold true with Wallace. I’ve seen him improve his route running while at Pittsburgh, but he wasn’t expected to read a defense and his biggest gain is the deep threat.

If I’m taking a chance on a crap shoot, I’m doing it like the Patriots did with all of the players above. Low risk, and in some cases high reward. Wallace is a high risk, high reward player.

TOO MANY TARGETS TO GO AROUND

The Patriots need a wide receiver. I will definitely agree there, but I’m not sure where Patriots fans got in in their heads that they need a no. 1 target.

Brady’s essentially already got two no. 1 targets in Wes Welker and Rob Gronkowski, and a player many teams would be happy to have as a no. 2 target in Aaron Hernandez.

So where would a player like Wallace fit in? Yes, he will take the top off the defense, and he will command a CB and safety over the top (if Brady can get the ball to him), but how much is that actually worth?

Wallace will command a first round pick, plus a contract worth up to $10-$12 million a year given the current WR contracts being delved out.

The Patriots will only have so many targets to go around in 2012, so how many targets will Wallace need to get to be worth giving up that much?

SECOND HALF OF 2011: NOT AS EFFECTIVE

This is what almost no one brings up, Wallace slightly struggled in the second half of 2011.

Before you blame the Roethlisberger injury, that happened in December, Wallace’s downfall started against the Pats in October.

After Wallace’s 3 reception 118 yard game against the Cardinals on October 23, he had 36 receptions for 463 yards, 12.9 average yards per catch and three touchdowns over his last nine games. In his first seven games, he had 36 receptions for 730 yards, 20.3 average yards be catch and five touchdowns.

I only even know about this because I had Wallace on my fantasy team, and it greatly screwed me for the second half of the year.

Now, I’m not exactly sure what happened. Maybe Wallace had an injury, maybe defenses figured him out, maybe he was double covered, maybe Ben was finding Brown and Sanders more, but that drop off happened. Is Wallace worth 36 receptions for 730 yards? Sure. Is he worth 36 receptions for 463 yards? Not so much.

So who do I want the Pats to get? Brandon Lloyd is the best case scenario. He knows the McDaniels offense, he’s an intermediate to deep threat and he won’t cost nearly as much. There are character concerns, but if a player like that can survive anywhere, it’s Foxboro.

Beyond Lloyd, I’d love them to grab a WR with experience in a pro style system who’s an experienced route runner in the draft. Players like Marvin Jones, Marvin McNutt and Chris Owusu would be perfect draft targets.

The Patriots don’t draft WRs well because they look for speedy projects like Taylor Price, Brandon Tate and Chad Jackson. It would be wise to compromise some size or speed and grab players who can catch, run a full route tree and come in right away and play.

Tags: 2012 NFL Free Agency, Mike Wallace, Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers, wide receiver

29 Responses to “Mike Wallace: Is He Worth The 27th Pick?”

  1. NickF says:

    Josh McDaniels likes to operate a vertical offense, something Billy O’Brien was too conservative to do. Welker doesn’t really accentuate those skills. While 83 was very productive next to Moss, that was before the team had such options at TE. To me Welker is expendable. I don’t like the idea of paying someone for their elite past production. While Welker obviously still has top notch skills, he is 31 and does have reoccurring knee problems. I would rather spend his money elsewhere and open up a spot at WR for a speedy deep threat. Giving up 31 + 10 mill annually for Wallace might not be the best idea, but I wouldn’t be completely opposed to it either. Draft pick aside (it is just a commodity, not a sure thing) I would rather pay Wallace 10 per than Welker 9.5) Wallace is 26 and would be around as long a Brady want to suit up. at 31, Welker probably has 2-3 very good years left before his skills start to fade.

  2. Jeff says:

    Let me think…Wallace for the 31st pick AND $10-$12 mil a year, or Lloyd for $7 mil and the 31st pick to use on someone that can fix the defense, or keep Brady upright against the newly retooled BUF DL as well as others? Hmmm…this is a tough one.

    Wallace isn’t worth it…which is why Bill won’t do it.

    Thank you NEPD for shedding some reality on this foolish pipe dream of those who don’t know football.

  3. Dan says:

    This Welker situation is getting very interesting…

    I say there’s no way they pay him (new) market value. He signs the franchise and plays out the year or he’s going to be replaced.

    It may be best for him to shoot his way out of town now and get into this market.

  4. Dan says:

    I’m all in on Reuben Randle …he’s the guy.

  5. qwerty says:

    another excellent article.

  6. qwerty says:

    >TOO MANY TARGETS TO GO AROUND

    that’s another key reason why patriots don’t need high cost solution

  7. qwerty says:

    Calvin Johnson will make 20 million a year. That works out to 1.25 million a game. Calvin averages 6 catches and 100 yards a game. He contributed to 30% of Detroits passing yards for year.

    So Calvin will get $210,000 per catch or 1.25 million per TD. This assumes he is able to repeat his one time only performance and not miss any games due to injury.

    Assuming he gets 10 million, Mike Wallace averages 5 catches and 70 yards and 0.5 TD per game. Wallace would average 0.625 million a game. He would make 125K per catch.

    This is an insane amount of money to be paying to these WR’s for what they do.

    • DWE 2012 says:

      Yes, but ALL PRO SPORT’s are nothing but the rich feeding the rich. It’s all about a close nit circle and how to overpaydeliberetly, and split the cash after taxes in the end(mind you as well just what can be written off…….and saved as well).
      Tell me Qwerty; How does a clip board holder make 2.4 Million a year for literally doing nothing……? It’s simple; after taxes,You give me (X) amount of cash and you still make 30% more than you ever should have……….”DEAL”……”YES DEAL.” That’s pro sport’s.

  8. Kim says:

    If the Patriots took him over Tate we would not be having this discussion )probably one over who to keep him or Welker). That is a sacry list to see that if you come to NE as a WR, chances are you are going to bust. There is no way I would be willing to give up pick #27, or #31 and a big contract to get him here. There are way too many holes that need to be filled and that money can be used to secure Welker (he has earnt it in a Pats uniform). I think it would be better to go for 2-3 WR’s in the draft and see who can develop the quickest. Why pay $10 million to one player for one year for 80 catches and 10 TD’s? (Estimating only). I would rather pay three players less for the same output and have some money spare to beef up other areas. Go Pats!!!

  9. Nuf Ced says:

    I read on PatsPulpit Wallace would actually cost us the 27th pick not the 31st.

    Also Ben Roethlisberger was hurt latter part of the year which affect his ball. the poorer second half wasn’t all Wallace

    That said I am still not keen on him

  10. td says:

    Wallace’s value would be to occupy part of a defense long to open the underneath and middle, but where are his catches and touchdowns coming from to make his signing have value? From Welker, Gronk, Hernandez, Branch? Most likely the 40-50 catches that Branch had in which case his price tag would be horrible value.

  11. Jon says:

    I really like the idea of Wallace in a Pats uniform. But I’ve said that about a number of players. The overall cost in terms of compensation for the Steelers, and the cost to keep Wallace just don’t add up.

    Its really a shame Washington went bananas with Josh Morgan and Pierre Garcon because I thought they could be okay pickups.

    Realistically at this point I’d like them to bring back Branch and maybe look at getting a third TE in free agency (or the draft). After that I think you have to look for rookie talent to flesh out the WR position. Its supposedly deep this year so grab 3+ (drafted and undrafted), and see who Tom responds to.

  12. Lundahl says:

    We didn’t give up a first round pick for Randy Moss, there’s no way we’re even giving up a third round pick for this guy. Plus, I don’t like him. His attitude doesn’t fit our ballclub.

    • DWE 2012 says:

      Ditto, Amen & I agree.

      Besides the fact that we are in much more need of a compliment to Wilfork on the line with a first rounder(although be it a late first), + million’s on top of it.

      We could get a number of other option’s at (WR) to fill in where Ochostinkitup was supposed to be at, spending that kind of asking rate to fill the wide out need is much better spent on a Huge DT that’ll support, work beside and terrorize alongside Big-V.

      Definetly not worth it at this time regarding Wallace.

  13. Jim R says:

    Not anymore. The pricetag just went waaaaaaay up. You cant tie up 15-17 million in wr salaries. Last year for welker too. Price tag for a franchise WR has to be @ 12 million for next year.

  14. JMC says:

    I’d rather draft defense- but I think wallace, becasue of his age and speed is worth looking into-

    • JMC says:

      I don’t really want LLyod unless he is really inexpensive. he is too old and inconsistant to spend substan-money on long term-

  15. Dan says:

    Question:
    Is there some kind of unwritten rule where teams avoid signing RFA’s away from teams? I recall hearing something like this; although I realize it’s done and we’ve done it.

    Just one of those things where teams just hate it when it’s done to them, so they “tend” to try to stay clear of doing it to others.

    Wallace seems like a prime example…he’s clearly worth a 1st rounder, especially second half – to late first rounder, and it really hurts the Steelers in a big way. Yet, nobody is making this simple move. I recognize the money is a much bigger factor now that free agency has gone nuts with that position. This may have save the Steelers also…teams are shying away because they’d have to pay him a ton more than figured last week.

    Anyone know the answer to this?

    • Jim R says:

      I think this is something BB considers Taboo.

    • AM says:

      If there were an unwritten rule, it would be collusion in violation of the CBA (not that that means it isn’t happening). I think it’s a combination of two things:

      1. The fact that RFA agreements require a pick plus the money, as you noted. It’s one thing to trade a first-rounder for Wallace–and I’m not sure he’s worth that, honestly–but it’s another to then have to pay him $11 million a year on top of losing the first asset.

      2. The fact that the NFL has consistently voided “poison pills” in RFA contracts. In the past, if the Patriots (for example) wanted to poach Wallace, they wouldn’t have to include a huge amount of guaranteed money in order to price the Steelers out of competing. Instead, they could have just lobbed a market-level contract his way, and included a provision guaranteeing the entire contract if Wallace played more than four games in any season in the City of Pittsburgh. The Steelers couldn’t possibly match the contract, because it was effectively for 100% guaranteed money if he plays. But the NFL has held (I think, and I believe starting with Curtis Martin leaving New England) that poison pill provisions don’t have to be matched in RFA contracts.

    • td says:

      IMO it’s mostly #1; teams thinking about Wallace would first check out the FA’s that don’t require a draft pick as compensation. If that does not work, then check out the RFA’s.

  16. AM says:

    Well said, and I agree almost entirely, except for the business about needing or not needing a number one target. The fact that there are two “number one targets” already on the team doesn’t change the fact that the team needs receiver help. Having talent at a position is no reason not to pursue additional talent at the same position, something the Patriots recognize. And in today’s NFL, just as a team really needs three starting-caliber cornerbacks to be effective in pass defense, teams need good sideline receivers to complement the inside passing game.

    Now, I certainly agree that Welker and Gronkowski fit the bill as top targets–but that assumes that Welker plays, and plays here. If he doesn’t come in on a real contract, I think he holds out. And before anyone comments that he is a great teammate (which he is) and a team player (which he is), remember that the same things could have been said about Deion Branch. Even if that is the case, though, Wallace isn’t the answer; Lloyd is definitely the best option as a complementary piece in free agency. He knows the system and has been productive in it. And I would love to see them grab a good complementary receiver in the draft, like Mohammed Sanu or Marvin Jones.

    • Dan says:

      The problem is this, everyone knows Welker kills it in this system, and teams out there may not be able to use him nearly as effectively. Kind of like what was said, above, about Wallace coming here and not needing to be the target of that many balls…to warrant such big number.
      Welker may be pissed…maybe(?)…but, he’s still able to compete here and get his $9 million, then go elsewhere next year.
      It’s not his fault, or anyone’s, that he’s older and blew out his knee; nor is his fault that he’s done so well in a perfect system for his skill set.
      He can choose to look at this two ways: He is elite and would (have been) anywhere, or he was very lucky end up here and catching balls in this system from Brady.
      His mistake was not holding out in his prime…like Branch. That’s when players have to do it….to avoid being too old, injured and having far less leverage.
      My take is he’s a very cool dude…appreciates where he’s at, will take the money, and work for that last contact…here or elsewhere…trying to win a Bowl being first on his mind and letting everything else fall into place.
      He’s not the type to blow that money…I’m sure he’s set and appreciative.

      Just my take…he could hold his breath and hold out. In fact, if the Pats are bringing in slot receivers now it may seem to indicate that things are looking so good. Any agent worth their salt would be picking up the phone after these last few days and demanding a fresh start at the table.

      We just have to let it play out.

      • td says:

        I’m sure he’s wondering why they can’t get it done, especially after being paid $2.5mil/year while putting up PS3 numbers. Also, factor in watching the head case named Moss get 3 yrs, $27mil in 2008 while he plugs along doing all the right things and get tagged.

        These guys getting tagged have to be thinking like Brees; the last time he played under the tag he almost had a career ending shoulder injury and had to take a lower offer from N.O.

  17. td says:

    He might be worth it if the cost was only a 1st round pick or $8-10mil, but not both. It’s not likely Tom is going to throw it to him 90-100 times a year and neglect Welker, Gronk and Hernandez, so the value would not be there. Need to find a WR that lives in the intermediate to long part of the field and catches 50-60 balls/year at a reasonable cost, say $5-7mil or less.

    Gonna need cap space to sign/extend Gronk, Hernandez, Chung next year.

  18. Dan says:

    yes, he’s worth the 31st pick, but the money going to receivers is the challenge here; coupled with the Welker situation.
    I doubt they will offer Welker a huge contract…market value established from this free agency week…I just don’t see it and I wouldn’t want it to happen, and I love Welker.
    I would like them to pick up a Rueben Randle in the draft, ideally.

    • Jeff says:

      Agree on Wallace. I im not sure I want BB to draft any WR it hasnt worked out since Deon Branch. Either the scouts cant scout WR’s or BB picks the wrong WR.

    • Tom says:

      Agree with the money issue. That is not something usually talked about, the focus is on the 1st round pick. The Pats have Welker at ~$9 million and I think Wallace would cost ~$10 million, plus the $3 million for Ocho, $1.5M if he gets cut. Combined, you are looking at more than $20 million for those players, plus $18M for Brady. Too much for too few players.

      Rather than getting Wallace, I think the Pats are better off drafting Marvin McNutt or Marvin Jones in the second round. Both players are fast, run good routes. McNutt in particular is supposed to be heady player and big (6’4″). NEPD had a good article recently on why the Pats fail at drafting and developing receivers and I think either of these players would help buck that trend.



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