So what is Mike Wallace worth to the Dolphins?
That's a question the Dolphins have been trying to answer for weeks since they identified Wallace as first a possible, then a likely, then a full-fledged must-have addition to the team.
We'll have an answer within 24-48 hours as free agency kicks off at 4 p.m. this afternoon and that signals the mad dash to get Burnell Michael Wallace II to put his name on a Miami Dolphins contract.
The deal is not done, contrary to a report yesterday. Indeed, after that "report" reared its head, I texted multiple team sources to see if it was true. "LOL the media," is one answer I got, which made fun of the report and reporter.
But if (I emphasize if because nothing is done until it is done) the Dolphins do land Wallace, what are they likely to pay and what are they likely to get for the price?
Let's start with performance. Remember that Nick Saban was fond of saying that the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. And the best predictor of future production is past production.
In the last two seasons, Mike Wallace has provided the Pittsburgh Steelers an average of 68 catches per season for 1,014 yards and eight touchdowns.
Unimpressed are you?
Well, consider that the Dolphins as a team threw 13 touchdowns passes in 2012 and suddenly those eight TDs per year from Wallace are looking mighty valuable.
Now, how did Wallace come by those numbers?
There is a theory afoot that Wallace benefitted greatly from the fact Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is a champion of keeping plays alive and thus giving Wallace more time to get deep, get open and get the ball for explosive scores.
There is, admittedly, something to that. There's no denying Roethlisberger had something to do with Wallace's success and if the wide receiver's next quarterback doesn't play as well as Roethlisberger has, Wallace's statistics are likely to decline.
Notice that Wallace averaged eight touchdowns the past two seasons and averaged eight touchdowns over his career, as well. The player is nothing if not consistent in that regard. And that must therefore take into account that Roethlisberger missed games last year and Wallace still produced.
I also must point out that the Steelers' offensive line has been leaking sacks and hurries the last couple of years. That team has been unable to produce either a consistent running game or been exceedingly good in pass protection. So yes, Roethlisberger is a magician keeping plays alive but that's because he has to be.
A less magical quarterback with a solid offensive line providing decent time to throw can accomplish the same results, assuming the QB has good vision downfield and is accurate.
So production is not, or should not be a question mark for this prospective free agent wide receiver.
That begs the question how high will the market allow Wallace's price to go?
Remember that Dwayne Bowe recently signed a five-year, $56 million deal with $20 million guaranteed. That averages $11.2 million per season and surpasses the five-year, $55 million deal Vincent Jackson signed last year with Tampa Bay on a yearly average basis. Jackson's deal averages out to $11 million per season.
But's it's not just the overall money and average that are important. Indeed, the guaranteed money is the key.
Jackson received $26 million in guaranteed money. I believe that is the figure Wallace wants to beat along with the per year average.
I would expect Mike Wallace will get a five-year deal from whatever team he signs with and he'll be shooting for $12 million per season, as I've reported before. Depending on whether there is competition or not for Wallace will determine if Wallace hits that $12 million per year but he will certainly reach at least $11.5 million per year.
And that $57.5 to $60 million contract must come with between $27 to $30 million in guaranteed money.
Whopping numbers, to be sure.
But, barring new factors being uncovered between now and 4 p.m., that's going to be the cost of adding 8 TDs and 1,014 yards to Miami's passing offense. That's going to be the vicinity for signing Mike Wallace.