Former Pro Bowl receiver Mike Wallace arrived in Baltimore last night for a visit, and the hope is that the Ravens will have him under contract before he leaves. The Ravens have a reputation for getting their guy, as the newest Raven Eric Weddle just said- the Ravens offered first, and kept on selling:
"There is a reason why they’re the Ravens – the culture, the winning – and it just showed throughout the whole process," Weddle said. "They were adamant about what they thought about me, what I bring, how I could help on and off the field.
"At the end of the day, it was just their continued effort. And it wasn’t just the contract stuff. It was what they said, what they thought, how we talked. They just showed me they want me."
Ben Watson is another player the Ravens pursued hard, and there too they got their man. With both Watson and Weddle, if you compare their contracts to their positional peers, are solid values, although they are both a little longer in the tooth than most other long term signees at tight end and safety, but also with better resumes.
Mike Wallace is another such player. He will turn 30 during training camp, and the former Pro Bowler is coming off the worst season of his career, and his third consecutive disappointing season. However, his 2 seasons with the Dolphins are only disappointing in relation to his contract. In 2013, as prominent commenter Fandamonium pointed out, his stat line was a solid 73 receptions for 930 yards and 5 touchdowns , and in 2014 his stat line was a respectable 67 receptions for 872 yards and 10 touchdowns. These stats may not make him worth the $11.45 million he was slated to make in 2016, but it is good enough to make one forget Torrey Smith and replace his contributions. Although he dipped even more in 2015 with the Vikings to the tune of 37 receptions for 473 yards and 2 touchdowns, how much of that was due to the ineffective deep ball of second year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, and the corresponding dip in targets? Even in Miami, his abilities were under-utilized due to the mediocre arm of Ryan Tannehill.
So what is Mike Wallace worth to the Ravens? While I doubt he approaches the $8 million that Torrey Smith got last offseason, expecting him to come for the veterans minimum is delusional and an offer like that would be a sign of disrespect. Wallace is still a more proven commodity than fellow veterans like Greg Jennings (2 years, $8 million) and Dwayne Bowe (2 years, $12 million), both of whom got nice contracts last year in free agency and severely under-performed. However, those players went to the Dolphins and Browns respectively, two teams that throw their financial weight around regularly and regret it. This is the Ravens we are talking about.
The Ravens will have to balance giving Wallace an offer which is not insulting, with one that does not hurt their cap long term, but they also need to keep it in context, with top receiver Steve Smith Sr. due $3 million this year with a $4,166,668 cap hit. In fact, Steve Smith Sr. contract would probably represent a solid example of what the Ravens would probably offer, although slightly higher due to inflation and Wallace's younger age (Smith was 34 yrs old in the first year of his contract). So something along the lines of 3 years and $13.5 million is my expectation, with a $4.5 million signing bonus would be my guess. A low year base salary in 2016 with an increase in 2017 when Senior's cap hit comes off the books would make the most sense for the Ravens, who could hopefully head into 2017 with a resigned Kamar Aiken, a more proven Breshad Perriman, and a rejuvenated Mike Wallace under contract.
Hopefully Wallace will be wearing purple by the end of the day, as I believe he has much to offer this roster. A strong armed quarterback like Joe Flacco would bring his numbers up and enable him to be the deep threat he was back in his heyday playing with Big Ben. The Ravens need to seal the deal, and if history is an indication the Ravens will have their third offseason addition under contract before the clock hits midnight.