According to NFL Network, it’s a distinct possibility if the offer expected to be coming from the Baltimore Ravens doesn’t materialize into something Wallace or his agent want.
NFL Network’s Ian Rappaport tweeted out Saturday that “Mike Wallace going back to the Vikings is on the table. They treated him well upon his release.”
When the Vikings traded for Wallace a year ago, one of the selling points was that, while his contract number was pretty stiff, the Vikings would have no “dead money” from his signing bonus.
Wallace’s release last week seemed almost inevitable. With a contract calling for him to be paid $11.5 million this season, his numbers from his first season with the Vikings – 39 receptions for 473 yards and two touchdowns – made that notion ludicrous.
However, the biggest red flag that Wallace had coming to Minnesota was that he wasn’t always viewed as an ideal teammate. He had a tendency to get frustrated if the ball wasn’t coming his way as often as he liked and he could be both temperamental and moody – what good wide receiver isn’t?
People could bad-mouth Wallace for his production-vs.-paycheck disparity, but, even when he was marginalized in the Vikings offense for weeks at a time, you never heard coaches or teammates grumble about his attitude. He was forthright with the media and almost always accommodating, even though he knew many of the questions that were going to get thrown his way typically involved his game day production. By all accounts, he was a veteran leader of a young receivers room and was a model teammate.
Even when the Vikings cut Wallace, which is typically when dirty laundry tends to get aired (see the Percy Harvin trade), everyone from Rick Spielman to Mike Zimmer had nothing but positive things to say about him.
What was lacking in Wallace’s game last year was the consistent deep threat that he provided both Pittsburgh and Miami during his career. The problem in Minnesota was two-fold. As a young quarterback, at times, Teddy Bridgewater seemed hesitant to cut loose the deep ball because he didn’t want to make the bad throw that could steal away momentum and potentially cost the Vikings a game. Secondly, with a makeshift offensive line that had four different starters at different positions than in 2014, Bridgewater wasn’t always afforded the time necessary for Wallace to get open deep downfield. There were numerous occasions where he had his man beat for a potential downfield bomb, but when he looked back for the ball, Teddy was either forced to check down, was running for his life or was being sacked.
The reason that Wallace and the Vikings may end up reuniting is that, to date in free agency, the Ravens are the only known team that has expressed an interest in him (they’re expected to meet officially today) and, according to Don Banks of Sports Illustrated, the Ravens interest in Wallace is “contingent on Wallace accepting a low-budget deal.”
With the Vikings moving back inside for a minimum of nine games a year for the foreseeable future (a minimum of 30 years and likely more than that), the team will likely be more prone to bringing in players with track speed to be difference-makers and, under that criterion, Wallace would appear to once again be a fit for the Vikings.
Will it happen? Let’s see how things go in Baltimore on Monday.