The promise of production never materialized for Mike Wallace. Last spring, the Minnesota Vikings brought the speedster to Winter Park with the hope that he’d give Norv Turner’s offense a legitimate deep threat. But Wallace didn’t just struggle down the field; he hardly produced. Despite being targeted 72 times in 2015, Wallace caught just 39 passes for 473 yards and two touchdowns. His yards per catch totals fell to 12.1, the lowest mark of his career, and he averaged just 29.6 yards per game.
Wallace’s struggles go deeper than the receiver’s on-field abilities, though. Poor offensive line play, Teddy Bridgewater‘s nonexistent deep ball, and the emergence of Stefon Diggs limited his opportunities, especially as the deep threat he was meant to be. Now, general manager Rick Spielman faces a difficult decision on Wallace’s contract, one that’ll inform the team’s draft strategy in April.
Reports earlier this week indicate Spielman’s desire to work with Wallace on a pay cut. If Wallace stays in Minnesota at his current price, the Vikings will owe him $11.5 million at the start of the 2016 league year. And if a deal can’t be reached, Spielman can cut Wallace with no dead money; a favorable deal that makes drafting a wide receiver more realistic next month. Clearly, Spielman wants Wallace in purple and gold next season. But what about the VT team? What do they want?
If you’re in Rick Spielman’s shoes, do you bring Wallace back in 2016 or cut him in the offseason?
Adam W.: Keep him
Getting that salary reduced would be a plus, but I’m not opposed to letting him play another year under the current contract we traded for, unless the Vikings plan on spending their cap space to add meaningful pieces. Wallace is the most experienced and established wideout we have and I have faith that he can be successful with this team moving indoors and presumably making a genuine effort to improve the offensive line and get Bridgewater more time to throw it down the field.
This opinion would be different if I thought this free agency class offered adequate replacement options (I don’t) or if I thought a sure-fire number one wide out will fall to the Vikings and be able to contribute in that capacity from Day One (I don’t). Basically, I think Wallace is a quality option despite last year’s production.
Carl: Keep him
Teddy Bridgewater and Stefon Diggs could be on the brink of greatness, and Mike Wallace’s veteran leadership could play an integral role pushing them to new heights in 2016. Bridgewater’s next stage in his development is to show the nation he can consistently connect on the home run ball. Wallace is a bit of a one trick pony as a deep threat and he is probably not a perfect match with a game manager like Bridgewater, but strangely enough, this odd couple could actually benefit in the long run with another year together.
With that said, it’s Diggs who I believe will gain the most from another season with Wallace. Wallace set the bar high for Diggs when he compared him to Antonio Brown, so, it stands to reason that Wallace would like nothing more than to further contribute to the emergence of Stefon Diggs. If Wallace can somehow help bring out the Antonio Brown in Diggs, then I think he is worthy of every penny he gets from the Vikings.
Sam: Bring him back!
I’ve written about this extensively and think Vikings fans are being overzealous and shortsighted when they clamor to toss Wallace aside. He adds quite a bit from a veteran leadership standpoint and can still stretch the field, and the receiver position isn’t so deep that the team can afford the luxury of just cutting bait whenever a guy’s production is lower than expected.
Besides, both Zimmer and Spielman have mentioned numerous times’s that Wallace’s lack of catches had more to do with other factors on the offense than Wallace himself. The team NEEDS to give Teddy every weapon they can, and Mike Wallace is a weapon. I’d actually be okay with paying him the full amount in 2016, but that ship has reportedly sailed, so a restructured contract and a moderate pay cut seems like a win/win.
Adam P.: Keep him
Bringing Mike Wallace back for the 2016 season depends on one thing. If the Vikings can get him to take a salary lower than the $11.45 million he is scheduled to make, than the team should keep him on the roster for next season. Wallace should be given another chance to improve from his awful 2015, especially since the team will be playing their home games indoors next season. His speed could become even more of a factor when he is able to step on the field and not have to worry about the weather affecting how he plays.
The fact that no one heard a single complaint from Wallace last year after posting career lows in almost every wide receiving statistical category proves that he actually enjoys playing in Minnesota. He can still become the deep threat that the Vikings were hoping for when they traded for him last offseason, so why not give him at least one more chance?
Matt Falk, Draft Season: Cut him
From everything you hear, Wallace was a good presence in the locker room, which is a surprise especially considering the lack of numbers he put up. Nobody doubts his ability to make plays if he has the chance, but that said, I think the Vikings just need to cut bait and look for a younger upgrade either via the draft or free agency. Diggs appears to have one starting spot locked up and with Wright in the slot, the Vikings need a bigger possession receiver to man the other starting WR, and Wallace just isn’t that. So even if he were to restructure, unless it is a HUGE pay-cut, I say let him walk.
Nik Edlund, Draft Season: Cut him
Why bother bringing back a receiver that only caught 39 balls, for 473 yds, and two touchdowns? He is a deep threat that never got deep. Also, you have to wonder how Wallace would take another season of underperforming. He was rumored to be a problem in Miami when he wasn’t getting the targets he thought he should be. An ugly, discontent veteran is the last thing this young locker room needs.
He could become a distraction to Teddy, and Bridgewater could feel like he’s got to start forcing Wallace the ball. If that were to happen, the entire offense would suffer and the season itself would be in jeopardy. I wouldn’t bring him back, even if it was at a very Vikings-friendly number. Just roll with Diggs, Wright, Thielen, Patterson, and I guess Charles Johnson. That worked last season, plus they can toss in a rookie or two and the Vikings receiving corps will be just fine.
Austin: Cut him
If you read Part 2 of our offseason plan, you’ll find that Brett and I cut Wallace. He’s an expensive commodity on a team that’s getting younger at every position. That strategy lends itself to building through the draft, and I fully expect the Vikings to target a wide receiver in the early rounds come April. I like Wallace, and I appreciated his leadership in the locker room last year, but I’m hard-pressed to believe he’ll take a pay cut to remain in Minnesota.
Surprisingly, most of the team wants to bring Wallace back! Answer the poll below and share what you’d like to see happen!