Mike Wallace, Rashard Mendenhall lead list of risky free agents
Mike Wallace, Rashard Mendenhall lead list of risky free agents
By Adam Schein
Published: March 7, 2013
Teammates Rashard Mendenhall (left) and Mike Wallace likely have played their last games as Pittsburgh Steelers.
At this time next week, there will be a lot of stupid money being thrown around the NFL with free agency well underway. And you just know some teams are going to make mistakes. Let's get a head start and lay out the nine riskiest free agents about to hit the open market:
1. Mike Wallace
My man Gregg Rosenthal has him ranked as the No. 1 player in free agency. My guy Jeff Darlington reports the Miami Dolphins covet Wallace and could be in a potential bidding war with the Minnesota Vikings for the speedster's services. And both teams certainly are in desperate need of a No. 1 wide receiver.
But I don't think Wallace is the guy. He's too inconsistent and unreliable -- just not worthy of the mega bucks he will receive.
Think about it. The Pittsburgh Steelers, one of the smartest and classiest organizations in sports, are about to let Wallace walk away. They've had enough. That should be a major red flag.
Wallace is all about the money. I don't think he prioritizes winning. He selfishly held out last year, didn't make an extra penny and helped derail the Steelers' season. Wallace wasn't part of the offseason programs and didn't learn new offensive coordinator Todd Haley's playbook. He then had an underachieving season filled with a case of the yips.
The San Francisco 49ers needed a receiver last year. They passed on Wallace, then a restricted free agent, and instead used their first-round pick (what would've been the compensation) on a project receiver who never played. The New England Patriots also needed a wideout. They wouldn't do it.
At times, Wallace can be flat-out majestic, with a knack for taking a short pass to the house or streaking down the sideline for a score. But he wants top dollar, and I wonder aloud if he will take the money and just be too satisfied with his paycheck.
2. Cliff Avril
I think he's a good player. But is he simply a product of a talented Detroit Lions defensive line? While he will be better than Charles Johnson and Ray Edwards, paying top dollar to the "other" defensive lineman always scares me. And it would scare me that Detroit, which has had a lot invested in Avril and franchised him last season, would let him walk.
3. Paul Kruger
I like Kruger a lot ... at the right price. He had a dominant postseason with a knack for getting to the quarterback. He's a great teammate with an Energizer Bunny playing style. And you certainly can argue that he hasn't reached his potential yet. But here's the rub: I don't think he is a three-down player. I believe he will get more money than he deserves from a team with cap room (think: Cleveland Browns). I root for Kruger. He's a good player. But if your team signs him, don't expect him to be someone he isn't.
4. Jake Long
Bill Parcells made the offensive tackle the face of the Dolphins in 2008, passing on Matt Ryan. Oops. Jake Long is a good player and legit leader. But injuries are a major concern. He missed the final quarter of last season with a ruptured left triceps. Also, Long has had shoulder and knee surgery, plus he had a biceps injury in 2011.
Dr. James Andrews just gave Long a clean bill of health. Timing is obviously superb. But you can still color me concerned.
I'm a huge fan of Long. I hope he goes back to Miami to finish the job. But I think another team will outbid the Dolphins. And that's risky.
5. Danny Amendola
He's a good player in the slot. But availability is a huge issue, as he cannot stay healthy. He should sign a one-year deal with the Rams.
6. Aqib Talib
For the record, I think he will re-up with New England. And he should. Talib is supremely talented, but troubled. Bill Belichick can handle him and coach him up. Tom Brady and the locker room can police him. And he fits an area of need at cornerback.
However, if for some reason he leaves New England, buyers beware. There's a reason why the cornerback-needy Tampa Bay Buccaneers had to ship him out of town.
7. Rashard Mendenhall
I'd rather play with 10 men on offense than put Mendenhall at running back. He's been a bust as a player. He was suspended in 2012 for being a bad teammate. Mendenhall can't hold on to the football and can't stay healthy. Otherwise, it has all worked out.
The Steelers will let him go. Another team shouldn't get duped by where he was drafted. You can't bank on this cat.
Pretty much sums up what I have been saying about both Wall@ss and Fumble-hall since last year. Kudos for this writer getting it right.
Is Mike Wallace worth a $60 million contract from the Dolphins?
By Omar Kelly
Dolphins have identified receiver Mike Wallace as their top free agent target, but is the former Steelers receiver worth $12 million a season?
Ever try negotiating the price of a new Maserati or Bentley?
Only so many of those exotic cars are sold in this country, and those who want them generally pay top dollar. The demand usually exceeds the supply, and as a result the price is typically the price.
The same concept applies to the top shelf free agents in professional sports. If you want them, expect to overpay.
The Miami Dolphins haven't hidden the fact they'll upgrade the receiver position through free agency, providing quarterback Ryan Tannehill the weapons he needs to jump start the passing game.
"I think this is the year that you've got to do something," General Manager Jeff Ireland said. "We're looking for playmakers on offense."
Multiple sources tell the Sun-Sentinel Steelers receiver Mike Wallace, who won't be given the franchise tag by the Steelers this offseason, is the team's top target.
And much like Miami's pursuit of Jim Harbaugh, Jeff Fisher and Peyton Manning, everyone inside the NFL knows Dolphins owner Steve Ross is a big spender, and expects him to set the bidding market high.
Considering Wallace turned down an offer from Pittsburgh that trumped the five-year, $55.5 million deal Vincent Jackson got from Tampa Bay as an unrestricted free agent last offseason, expect a contract being placed on a table that pays Wallace in the range of $60 million or $12 million a season during unauthorized contract negotiations at this week's NFL combine.
If the sticker price for this two-time Pro Bowler scares you, please calm down and consider the Dolphins paid Jake Long that type of money ($57.5 million over five seasons), and he didn't even score touchdowns.
Is Wallace worth $12 million a season?
That's debatable, and his critics will point to his drops (21 in the past four seasons), how he's a product of Ben Roethlisberger's numerous broken plays, and his supposedly diva-esque personality to discredit him. But every free agent has their warts. That's why their old team is cutting them loose.
Fans can only cross their fingers and hope their team gets what they pay for. But you don't go shopping in Beverly Hills and then complain how expensive everything is.
That's free agency. But there is no denying the fact Wallace been one of the NFL's game changers since entering the league in 2009.
Out of all the receivers who played in 2012, Randy Moss (52), Larry Fitzgerald (34), Calvin Johnson (33) and Marques Colston (33) are the only playmakers who scored more touchdowns than the 32 Wallace produced in his first four seasons.
There are fewer than a dozen NFL receivers who can do what Wallace does, forcing defenses to adjust to him, putting a safety over the top of where he lines up. Few receivers have both the sub 4.4 speed needed to provide deep ball plays, and the athleticism required to produce yards after the catch.
Wallace does it all, and is the only free agent who fulfills Ross' mandate for 2013, which is "we have to be more explosive."
Wallace averages 17.2 yards per reception throughout his career, and if he stays on that pace all it would take is 59 receptions for Wallace to produce his third 1,000-yard season. Davone Bess contributed 778 yards on 61 catches.
The biggest question surrounding Wallace is whether he'd stay on that elite pace after receiving his first big deal?
Money drives us all, and his pursuit of it somewhat explains his lackluster 2012 season, which featured him catching 64 passes for 834 yards and scoring eight touchdowns in 15 games.
What happens to Wallace once $24-30 million is guaranteed on his next deal? The Steelers clearly know something because teams rarely let a player of his caliber get away with no strings attached.
Dolphins fans better hope that if Miami does end up going the Wallace route he'll perform like an exotic ride because there is no lemon law protection when it comes to top shelf free agency.
To label Mendenhall as a bust is silly. Limas Sweed was a bust. Scott Shields was a bust.
Mendenhall's career hasn't been what was expected, but he's far from a bust.
Adam Schein is a retard.
Hall of Famer
Bust may be strong, but not far off.
Originally Posted by Siggy00
Think about it. The Pittsburgh Steelers, one of the smartest and classiest organizations in sports, are about to let Wallace walk away.
I think Wallace will end up being a free agency regret for some team out there.
He will still produce pretty well, but the price range for FA WR's is just too outrageous now. Only maybe 5 or 6 guys in the league, at this point in their careers, can live up to the price tag that will be paid for Wallace....Calvin Johnson, AJ Green, Julio Jones, Brandon Marshall, and maybe Dez Bryant and Demaryius Thomas.
I wouldnt put Dez on that list yet but I agree...
the steelers are broke, that's the reason.
Originally Posted by pittpete
what if lewis walks? Is he to be demonized as well?
They aren't broke. If they want him here he'd be here.