The Miami Dolphins have been linked to free agent wide receiver Mike Wallace since the beginning of the offseason, and as recently as Saturday, the Dolphins were considered the "lead dog" to land Wallace. Just one day before free agency is set to open, the Dolphins are now "expected" to sign Wallace, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.
Miami's need at wide receiver is as big as any. The Dolphins did re-sign leading wide receiver Brian Hartline to a five-year deal worth nearly $31 million late last week, but Hartline is best suited to be a No. 2 wide receiver. Adding Wallace opposite Hartline would give the Dolphins one of the most dynamic 1-2 wide receiver punches in the league -- and would go a long way toward second-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill's development.
In FOX Sports' original report on Saturday that cited Miami as the lead dog for Wallace, Alex Marvez reported that Wallace is likely to receiver multiple offers in $11-12 million per year range. Wallace is expected to seek a five-year deal, making the overall financial commitment to him between $55-60 million.
Not only do the Dolphins have $35 million in cap space to spend this season, but Miami is also positioned well next year, with just over $71 million committed next year -- the second-lowest total in the NFL. Even if the Dolphins do invest heavily into Wallace, they'll still have plenty of money to spend elsewhere, as Miami looks to challenge New England in the AFC East.
In addition to Wallace, the Dolphins will pursue free agent tight end Jared Cook, who would give Miami yet another weapon for Tannehill. Clearly, Miami is focused on boosting its passing attack, which ranked No. 26 in the NFL in passing yards per game in 2012 (198.8).
Hartline received the most targets from Tannehill in 2012 with 128, en route to a career-year. Davone Bess, Anthony Fasano, Reggie Bush and Charles Clay rounded out the top-five most targeted Dolphins in 2012 -- a rather uninspiring cast.
If the Dolphins do add Wallace, it will give the Miami offense something it lacked in 2012 -- a home run-hitting playmaker. Wallace has big-play ability, and is the top free agent wide receiver available, despite coming off of a down year in 2012. Wallace missed Pittsburgh's training camp while holding out for a bigger contract in 2012, and it's possible that his holdout affected his play and role in Todd Haley's offense.
Further, Wallace's addition would take pressure off of Hartline, as defenses will have to prepare specifically for Wallace, ensuring that he doesn't roam free.
If the Dolphins do sign Wallace, expectations for Tannehill will soar entering his second year. In his rookie season with a weak supporting cast, Tannehill completed 58.3 percent of his passes for 3,294 yards while throwing 12 touchdowns against 13 interceptions. Certainly, Tannehill's numbers were solid for a rookie quarterback, but Miami fans and personnel alike will expect Tannehill to take a step forward in 2013 -- especially if the team adds Wallace.
Adding Wallace won't turn the Dolphins into the favorites in the AFC East, but such a move would certainly aid the development of Tannehill -- something that would have excellent long and short-term effects for the Dolphins franchise.
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