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WR Mike Wallace Finds Right Fit

Posted Mar 22, 2018

In two seasons with the Baltimore Ravens, Mike Wallace caught 124 passes for 1,765 yards and eight touchdowns, playing in 31 of 32 games. He brings deep speed to the Eagles' offense. He brings depth. He brings personality and confidence ...

In two seasons with the Baltimore Ravens, Mike Wallace caught 124 passes for 1,765 yards and eight touchdowns, playing in 31 of 32 games. He brings deep speed to the Eagles' offense. He brings depth. He brings personality and confidence.

All on a one-year deal.

We know the nature of one-year contracts. Sometimes they just don’t work out. Sometimes, as the Eagles learned in 2017 in the cases of wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, cornerback Patrick Robinson, and running back LeGarrette Blount, they work out so very well. Oh, and let’s not forget defensive tackle Tim Jernigan, whom the Eagles traded for during the last year of his contract. Both Jernigan and Jeffery signed contract extensions before the 2017 regular season ended. Offensive guard Chance Warmack signed a one-year contract last spring with the Eagles and had his deal extended through 2018.

Already this year, prior to Wallace, the Eagles brought in linebacker Corey Nelson and defensive tackle Haloti Ngata on one-year contracts.

The benefits are there for both the team and the players. For the team, there is no long-term commitment, generally not a huge signing bonus and a relatively easy contract to digest within that year’s salary cap. A team knows it acquires a player ready to prove himself in a contract year, and that generally brings out the best in players.

For the player, it’s about having a chance to succeed in the right environment. In Wallace's situation, for example, he comes to a player-friendly offense in which the quarterback (Carson Wentz) is a franchise talent who is going to work hard to develop chemistry and timing and put the football in the right spot at the right time for the receiver to make the reception.

It's a win-win most of the time.

Why Wallace? He runs extremely well at age 32 (his age when the regular season begins), he adds a veteran presence, and he’s averaged 15 yards per catch in his career that started in Pittsburgh, moved to Miami for two seasons, then to the Vikings for a year, and to the Ravens in 2016 and 2017. Wallace played well in the second half of Baltimore’s disappointing 2017 season, and that strong finish sent him into free agency hopeful for a long-term deal.

But it didn’t happen.

So Wallace comes to the Eagles possessing many of the same traits of Torrey Smith, the man he might replace. Smith played with speed and made big plays for the Eagles in the Super Bowl drive last season. He was also a strong veteran influence in the locker room. Wallace is of a similar profile.

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What does it mean for the wide receiver corps? It’s more competition. It’s more speed. It’s more experience.

With very little risk.

As 2017 ended, Wallace sounded hopeful of returning to Baltimore.

“I love it here,” Wallace told reporters. “This team, these coaches, they just gave me love for the game back at a time when I was dark (after a down season in Minnesota). If they’ll have me, I’ll definitely come back.”

Turns out, the Ravens went in another direction, agreeing to terms with Ryan Grant, then reneging on that agreement when Grant failed the team physical and signing veteran Michael Crabtree when he was released by the Raiders (who signed Jordy Nelson). As the game of revolving wide receivers struck the league, the Eagles traded Smith to Carolina for cornerback Daryl Worley and then patiently waited to see how the market reacted around Wallace.

The timing and the situation was right on Thursday to add a veteran playmaker.

In his two seasons with the Ravens, Wallace impressed his quarterback. That was very clear by the words Joe Flacco spoke when Baltimore’s season ended.

“Mike, he’s been a warrior for us a couple of years now,” Flacco said. “Just the attitude that he brings and the explosiveness that he brings out there – the amount of big plays he’s had the last few years, he’s second to none in the league. He does a lot for an offense like this. It would be huge to see him back.”

Instead, Wallace joins the Eagles and jumps into an extremely competitive situation that includes the likes of Jeffery, Nelson Agholor, and second-year men Mack Hollins and Shelton Gibson. This is going to be fun to watch as Wallace joins the wide receiver group.

As the Ravens cleaned out their lockers following last season, Wallace was asked what he would look for should he reach free agency. He expressed a desire to stay in Baltimore, of course, but otherwise pretty much predicted a perfect landing spot.

“I’ve made a lot of money,” Wallace said. “You’re not going to play for pennies, but at the same time, that’s not the most important thing to me. I want to win. That’s going to be my key - just put myself in the best situation I can to win a Super Bowl.”

Sounds like a great thing, then, that Wallace is joining the Eagles. Welcome to Philadelphia, where one-year contracts have a strong track record of paying off for both sides.

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