Following his early March release from the Minnesota Vikings, wide receiver Mike Wallace only had to wait a week to find a new team to play for in 2016. That new team wound up being the Baltimore Ravens and with it now looking like second-year wide receiver Breshad Perriman could ultimately miss the entire 2016 season as a result of a partially torn ACL that he suffered last week, Wallace could be in line for an even bigger role in his new team’s offense.
The Ravens were already expected to lean heavily again this season veteran Steve Smith Sr. and Kamar Aiken, a former undrafted free agent who led Baltimore last season with 75 receptions for 944 yards and 5 touchdowns. While Perriman was expected to also contribute heavily in 2016 after missing his entire rookie season because of a right knee injury, Wallace being signed to a two year, $11.5 million contract was a pretty good sign that he wasn’t going to be spending a lot of time on the Ravens sidelines this upcoming season.
After leaving the Pittsburgh Steelers for greener free agent pastures in 2013, Wallace has still yet to catch more than 73 passes in a single season. In fact, while he did hit his career-high reception mark of 73 in 2013, his first of what would wind up being only two seasons with the Miami Dolphins, Wallace was targeted a whopping total of 141 times. While some of those missed connections can certainly be blamed on Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannhell, Wallace also managed to drop his fair share of passes which is a bad trait that has plagued him dating back to college.
Since leaving Pittsburgh where he registered 67 explosive receptions over the course of four seasons, Wallace has only managed to register 27 such plays over the course of the last three while playing with Tannehill in Miami and Teddy Bridgewater in Minnesota. After signing with the Ravens he talked about how happy he was to play with an experienced quarterback such as Joe Flacco, who has not only won a Super Bowl, but supposedly has a strong arm to boot.
“Flacco, he’s always been that guy. I always loved his deep ball – always,” Wallace said not long after signing with the Ravens. “When I was in Pittsburgh watching Torrey [Smith] catch them, I’d be like, ‘This guy gets eight of them in a row. I need me some of that.’”
Perhaps Wallace should really temper his deep ball expectations in Baltimore as Flacco enters his 9th NFL season having only completed 36.2% of all deep passes that he’s thrown during the regular season. In fact, over the course of his last four seasons, Flacco’s only completed 35.6% of his deep passes. For as bad as Tannehill is, he enters 2016 with a 37.9% deep ball completion percentage. Being as Wallace only caught 28.4% of the deep balls that Tannehill threw him during his two seasons in Miami, it makes you wonder which player may have been on the wrong page more of the two.
Besides him being the occasional deep ball threat now that he’s in Baltimore, what else does Wallace bring to the Ravens that’s positive? Is he a player that can consistently move the chains on third downs? Not really as he’s only managed to catch 48.5% of all third down passes thrown his way since leaving Pittsburgh. Additionally, of the 33 third down catches that he has managed to haul in during the last three seasons, only 22 of them resulted in either a touchdown or a first down.
Is Wallace a reliable red zone scoring threat? Well, being as he has scored 13 touchdowns on 39 total red zone targets over the course of the last three seasons, I wouldn’t exactly call him a huge threat when it comes to that area of the field.
Even though Wallace stands to earn more playing time in 2016 with Perriman out injured, he’ll almost surely not be involved in the team’s passing game early and often on a consistent basis. As we’ve seen in the past, and especially during his four years in Pittsburgh, Wallace appears to lose focus when the start of games don’t include him being involved heavily.
Being as Wallace was given a $4.5 million signing bonus, he’s certainly a lock to make the Ravens final 53-man roster this year. However, with Perriman now down, it won’t take long for the Ravens to find out what kind of player they have in Wallace and I’m willing to bet it won’t take long for them to second-guess their decision to sign him.