The Business End of an NFL Contract: Is Wallace Worth it?
The reason for this post is in regards to Mike Wallace and whether or not he deserves a contract equal to that of Larry Fitzgerald or Calvin Johnson. The majority of people I have spoken with or have read posts about say he's not worth that kind of money and he's nothing more than a "One Trick Pony'. I however, want to play the Devil's Advocate here because where I don't feel 100% that he is worthy of that kind of money, I do feel he certainly is close to it and if not for the fact that the Steelers had Antonio Brown to fall back on in the second half of last years season, he certainly had a chance at breaking Jerry Rice's single season yardage record, which he claimed he was going to do before the season started.
Larry Fitzgerald's rookie year had him with 58 receptions for 780 yards and 8 touchdowns. In his second year, he had 103 receptions for 1409 yards and 10 touchdowns. Year three he had 69 receptions for 946 yards and 6 touchdowns. Also note that he only played 13 games in his third year year.
Calvin Johnson's rookie year had him with 48 receptions with 756 yards and 4 touchdowns. In his second year he had 78 receptions with 1331 yards and 12 touchdowns. Year three he had 67 receptions with 984 yards and 5 touchdowns. Also note that he only played in 15 games in his rookie year and 14 games in his third year.
Mike Wallace's rookie year had him with 39 receptions for 756 yards and 6 touchdowns. In his second year he had 60 receptions for 1257 yards and 10 touchdowns. Year three he had 72 receptions for 1193 yards and 8 touchdowns.
So let's look at the totals:
Larry Fitzgerald - 230 Receptions, 3135 Yards, 24 Touchdowns, 45 Games Played
Calvin Johnson - 193 Receptions, 3071 Yards, 21 Touchdowns, 45 Games Played
Mike Wallace - 171 Receptions, 3206 Yards, 24 Touchdowns, 48 Games Played
In every stat shown, the only number that Wallace fails to compare to is the amount of touches he received and that is simply due to his yard per catch total in his first two years. He is equal to or better than both Johnson and Fitzgerald in touchdowns and has more yards than both of them through their first three years. Plus let's not forget that Wallace has played in every game since being drafted which says a lot about his durability.
Now back to the point of this post. If Antonio Brown was not as good as he is, then Ben Roethlisberger is forced to continue to throw the majority of his passes to his primary receiver, Mike Wallace. Just take a look at the first half of last year compared to the second half in regards to Mike Wallace. In his first 8 games, he has 43 receptions for 800 yards. In his last 8 games he has 29 receptions for 393 yards. It is my opinion that due to Mike Wallace being in his final year of his contract, that he was targeted less times to intentionally keep his numbers down so they could use that to say he isn't as good as those other players that have received monster contracts. Yes, I have heard all the arguments as to Mike Wallace drawing double coverage and the like but that is not entirely true as this wasn't his first trip to the rodeo. Opposing teams knew all about Mike Wallace and his speed and he drew double coverage in the first half as much as he did in the second half. So why else would they stop throwing the ball his way if not to intentionally keep his numbers down?
Neither Fitzgerald nor Johnson had two 1000+ yards in their first three seasons, Mike Wallace has. If not for the combination of Ward and Holmes in Wallace's first year, I strongly believe that Wallace would have had back to back to back seasons of 1000+ yards and if not for them targeting receivers who were not Mike Wallace in the second half of last year, I strongly believe he would have finished the year with 1500+ yards and at least another 5 touchdowns.
So before anyone makes another statement about how Mike Wallace isn't worth the money that Larry Fitzgerald and Calvin Johnson are making, you might want to ask yourself whether they themselves are worth the money they are currently getting since Mike Wallace has proven with his stats that he is currently better than they both were in their first three years. Barring injury, he is only going to get better, and as for him being a "One Trick Pony", I agree, but being better than the two highest paid receivers in the NFL is one hell of a trick!
Source: Behind the Steel Curtain