The biggest acquisition of the Miami Dolphins' 2013 spending spree might not be long for South Beach. According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, the team has begun exploring trade possibilities for wide receiver Mike Wallace.
It's not clear who the suitors for Wallace's services might be. Several teams, including the Cleveland Browns and Oakland Raiders, are believed to be in the market for a wide receiver this offseason whether through the draft, free agency or a trade. Wallace turns 29 before the start of the 2015 season and has three years remaining on his contract. Wallace ranks among the highest paid wide receivers in the league, averaging $12 million per season.
Why this makes sense
When the Dolphins signed Wallace away from the Pittsburgh Steelers, they thought they were getting one of the league's premier deep threats. Though he led the team in receiving yards during his two years in Miami, his Miami career as been somewhat of a disappointment. He has averaged just 12.8 yards per catch, a significant downturn from the 17.2 he posted with the Steelers.
Perhaps part of the reason Wallace hasn't lived up to expectations is his fit in the offense. Under offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, the Dolphins favor an up-tempo, low-risk passing attack. That has led to fewer opportunities for Wallace to make plays deep. Making matters worse, starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill struggles with his accuracy on longer throws. Trading away Wallace would allow the Dolphins to give more playing time to talented youngsters like Jarvis Landry who fit the scheme better.
Wallace may also not have been a great fit for the locker room. Wallace reportedly missed the second half of the season finale because he no longer wished to continue playing. Few athletes, even those of Wallace's caliber, are given second chances after pulling such a stunt.
A trade would also allow the Dolphins to recoup some salary cap space. As it stands, Wallace accounts for a cap number of $13.7 million. Only three receivers have a greater cap hit for 2015, all of which have previously earned first- or second-team All-Pro honors. Wallace has never made either team. As it stands, the Dolphins possess only $4,049,458 in cap space, according to Over the Cap. Trading Wallace would free up $5.5 million, over double their estimated current amount, $3 million more than if he were released.
Why this doesn't make sense
There really is no reason for the Dolphins not to trade Wallace. However, there really isn't much incentive for other teams to make a deal for him, either.
Wallace still possesses the speed necessary to take the top off the defense, but he has never developed as an underneath receiver. Despite his limited skillset, the only wideout who earns more on average is the Detroit Lions' Calvin Johnson, an All-Pro capable of doing just about everything at the position. Not only would a team have to take on Wallace's albatross of a contract, they'd have to give up something in return to Miami.
And for prospective trade partners, this is a buyer's market. Dez Bryant, Demaryius Thomas and Randall Cobb are all currently scheduled to hit free agency in March. Though one or more is likely to get the franchise tag, each is considered a better receiver than Wallace and, in the case of Cobb, might come cheaper. There's also the draft, which for the second consecutive year appears to offer plenty of quality pass catchers throughout the first few rounds.
Likelihood: 2 out of 10
It doesn't make sense for another team to take on Wallace's awful contract. 2015 will mark the fourth year since his last 1,000-yard campaign, an eternity in the National Football League. Wallace could break that streak in the right offense, but even then he isn't worth his current salary.
That said, stranger things have happened. Wallace may have superstar appeal to one general manager or owner, and that's all it takes to get a deal done. The Dolphins could even sweeten the pot by throwing in a Day 3 draft pick. It doesn't make a trade likely, but it isn't impossible.