Pittsburgh Steelers WR Mike Wallaces deserves Larry Fitzgerald money
David Barbour - NY Sports Examiner
May 25, 2012
Every year in the NFL there are a plethora of players who are unhappy with their contract situations. The unhappy players universally think that the NFL team currently employing them is not paying them a salary commensurate with their true value. Not every player who makes such a claim is correct, but when it comes to Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace, he is absolutely correct.
Right now, the Pittsburgh Steelers have offered Mike Wallace, currently a restricted free agent, a one-year tender offer that is reportedly worth $2.74 million. Wallace has yet to sign his one-year nor should he. For a player of Wallace's ability, a contract offer like that is insulting and reeks of the Pittsburgh Steelers exploiting the level of production he provides.
As to what Wallace would prefer to be paid, reports have come out that he would like to receive a contract at least equal to the one Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald possesses. Last year, Fitzgerald signed an eight-year, $120 million contract. If the reports are providing an accurate picture of the contract Wallace feels he has earned, then they are exactly right.
Wallace does deserve a handsome payday like the one Fitzgerald received because he has the potential to be a more valuable wide receiver over his career than Fitzgerald. I am basing this claim on how the two wide receivers stacked up in their first three NFL seasons.
Using NFL.com's and Pro-Football Reference.com's pass target and play-by-play data, I removed both wide receivers' statistics from their quarterbacks' in order to gauge just how valuable they were to their respective teams' passing attacks.In three seasons in the NFL, after Wallace's statistics were removed from his quarterbacks' statistics, his quarterbacks became 1.6 percent better in completion percentage (from 63.3 percent to 64.3 percent), 7.4 percent worse in yards per pass attempt (from 8.1 to 7.5), 7.7 percent worse in adjusted yards per pass attempt (from 7.8 to 7.2), 7.1 percent worse in yards per completion (from 12.8 to 11.7), 17.8 worse in touchdown percentage (from 4.5 percent to 3.7 percent), and 11.5 percent worse in interception percentage (from 2.6 percent to 2.3 percent).
Compare that to what Fitzgerald did in the first three years of his career, which took place from 2004-06. When his statistics were removed from his quarterbacks' statistics over that time frame, his quarterbacks underwent an .8 percent increase in completion percentage (from 60.3 percent to 60.8 percent), a 4.3 percent decrease in yards per pass attempt (from 6.9 to 6.6), a 3.3 percent decrease in adjusted yards per pass attempt (from 6.1 to 5.9), a 6.1 percent decrease in yards per completion (from 11.5 to 10.9, a 33.3 percent decrease in touchdown percentage (from 3.0 percent to 2.0 percent), and a 21.9 percent decrease in interception percentage (from 3.2 percent to 2.5 percent).
In the most important statistical categories, yards per pass attempt, adjusted yards per pass attempt, and yards per completion, Wallace is the receiver who provided the most value in his first three seasons.It is worth nothing that Fitzgerald went on to have great success in his following seasons, but despite that fact, it would make more sense to give Wallace his monster contract now when he is entering his age-26 season; Fitzgerald was entering his age-28 season at the time he signed his contract, of which about $50 million was guaranteed.
Based on the fact Wallace is younger than Fitzgerald at the time Fitzgerald signed his latest contract and also demonstrated he had more potential going forward to due to a more impressive first three seasons in the NFL, he certainly deserves to be paid as well as Fitzgerald is.
If the Steelers continue to withhold that level of money from Wallace, it is only because they want to pay him below market value while receiving elite wide receiver production. There is no other reason to deny Wallace the new contract he has requested.