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Wallace was discussed as potentially being in the Vikings’ plans if there wasn’t a market open for him and, from the sounds of some of the whispers around the team, the Vikings were rumored to have been willing to offer Wallace somewhere between $4 million and $5 million to return.
That didn’t happen. The Baltimore Ravens signed Wallace to a two-year, $11.5 million deal Tuesday, returning him back to the AFC after a year in the NFC and giving Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco a much-needed veteran weapon.
As would be expected, Wallace was trying to sell himself to the local media as a viable player who still has some good football left in him. Coming off a season in which he set career lows with just 39 receptions for 479 yards and two touchdowns and, perhaps more troubling, was that as the Vikings had their 2015 season on the line in December, Wallace was being phased out of the offense.
In the final 10 games of the season, Wallace caught just 13 passes and had 22 or fewer receiving yards in 10 of them. Even if his cap number for 2016 hadn’t been huge, it would be difficult to justify paying him $5 million, much less more than $11 million.
In an interview with the Baltimore media, Wallace was in full damage control mode, as was to be expected for a player coming to a new city with baggage – not dissimilar to the talk of Wallace being a bad teammate in Miami.
But Wallace chose to take a defensive posture that came off as effectively throwing Teddy Bridgewater and the Vikings under the bus, claiming that he knew he was out in Minnesota and for him to be effective he needs a proven quarterback – implying Bridgewater is not.
“When this process started, I knew I wasn’t going back to Minnesota,” Wallace said. “I was like, ‘I need a good quarterback. I need a quarterback who I know is proven and can get things done. Flacco, he’s always been that guy. I’ve always loved his deep ball. Always.”
Wallace spent his first four seasons in the AFC North with the Pittsburgh Steelers and said he watched on with admiration as the Steelers played the Ravens twice a year and he saw what Flacco was able to do with downfield speedster Torrey Smith. He envisions his role being similar to that in Baltimore and expects that he will rebound with his new proven quarterback.
Asked if he thought he could rebound to the kind of numbers he had early in his career – he hasn’t had a 1,000-yard receiving season since 2011 – he responded that he believes his return to the AFC North will be impactful.
At the same time, he took a final opportunity to throw a grenade the Vikings’ way.
“I’ve been taking a lot of heat,” Wallace said of his sub-par 2015. “We’ll see about that. I promise, I’ll get the last laugh.”
For a guy who, by all accounts, had an amicable split with the Vikings, it would appear that once he got another team to take a chance on him, he didn’t wait long to make his dismal 2015 season the fault of the Vikings and Bridgewater, not himself.
- The Vikings played host to veteran newspaper man Sid Hartman Tuesday, as Hartman celebrated his 96th birthday. The longtime Star Tribune columnist has been around so long that he covered the Minneapolis Lakers for the newspaper while, at the same time, being its head P.R. man in the 1950s.
- If it was any coach other than Bill Belichick, people would be scratching their heads as to why the New England Patriots would trade away their leading sack producer – defensive end Chandler Jones, who had 12.5 sacks last year. They did on Tuesday, sending Jones to Arizona for guard Jonathan Cooper and a second-round pick in next month’s draft. The Patriots have a history of moving off of players coming out of big seasons and this just seems to continue the trend. The Pats didn’t waste any time, signing former Rams defensive end Chris Long.