Former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace came off the board quickly, signing a mammoth 5-year, $65 million deal, which is expected to include around $30 million guaranteed, with the Miami Dolphins.
That averages out to $13 million a season, which would put him behind just Calvin Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald at his position in terms of average annual salary. The contract significantly outclasses the contract recently signed by Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Dwayne Bowe, who came to terms on a 5-year, $56 million contract last week.
That contract itself was in response to the new standard set by Vincent Jackson last offseason when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers paid him $55.55 million for 5 years.
Wallace was a third round draft pick in the 2009 NFL draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers. He made an immediate impact as a rookie, making a key third down grab in overtime in week one that set up the game-winning field goal for the then-defending champion Steelers. In a limited role, he went on to average 19.4 yards per catch for 756 yards and 6 touchdowns.
His performance as a rookie gave the team the confidence to trade away Santonio Holmes, who had become a locker room issue, for just a fifth-round pick. Wallace exploded, reeling in 10 touchdowns as a first-time starter on 60 catches for 1257 yards and a staggering 21 yards per catch.
In 2011, he made his first Pro Bowl after catching a career-high 72 passes for nearly 1200 yards and another 8 touchdowns. Following the season, Wallace held out on the Steelers, missing training camp and the preseason while seeking a new contract. Instead, the team gave fellow wide receiver Antonio Brown a new contract.
In a new offensive system that limited his big play ability, Wallace averaged just 13.1 yards per catch in 2012 for 836 yards, although he still managed to bring in 8 touchdowns. He missed the last game of the season due to injury—the first game he’s missed in his career.
The Dolphins are certainly looking for Wallace to return to his game-breaking form at $13 million a year. Since 2009 when he entered the league, Wallace has 19 touchdowns of 30 yards or more, more than any other player in that time span.
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