If I told you back in March that the best decision the Baltimore Ravens would make during the offseason was the one that brought in former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace on a two-year, $11.5 million contract, you no doubt would have laughed at me, and, really, the position would be well-founded.
Since leaving the Steelers in pursuit of major dollars—which he obviously found—Wallace has not been able to put up the same numbers that made him a Pro Bowl talent working with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and an explosive offense.
But according to at least one Ravens beat writer, Wallace’s signing has been the highlight of the Ravens’ offseason so far, the best decision that the front office has made. And there is some support for this. Through the team’s first seven games of the season, the 30-year-old wide receiver has caught 35 passes for 490 yards and three touchdowns.
“The Ravens’ signing of Mike Wallace following his release by the Minnesota Vikings didn’t generate a ton of attention outside Baltimore”, writes Jeff Zrebiec. “But thus far, Wallace has been the Ravens’ most consistent offensive player. While pointing out his statistical production, Zrebiec also cited his locker room presence in mentoring the Ravens’ young wide receivers, including 2015 first-round draft pick Breshad Perriman.
Compare the numbers mentioned above to his numbers just from last season in 16 games with the Vikings. In 2015, Wallace caught 39 passes for 473 yards and only two touchdowns. Currently, he is on pace to catch 80 passes, which would be a career-high mark.
His current per-game yardage total would see him finish with 1120 receiving yards, which would be only the third time in his career that he would exceed the 1000-yard mark, and the first since leaving Pittsburgh. He has also only caught more than five touchdowns once in his three seasons since leaving the Steelers.
He is also the bulk of Baltimore’s deep threat, authoring three of their five passing plays of 40 or more yards. He also has eight total receptions of 15 yards or more, and leads the Ravens with an average of 14 yards per reception.
On a more practical level, on a team that is struggling significantly on offense, Wallace trails only Dennis Pitta by three in receptions, but is 155 yards clear of him as the team leader in receiving yards, and he is the holder of 60 percent of their touchdown receptions, and 30 percent of their total offensive touchdowns.
The Ravens may not have been able to field the offense that they envisioned—they have already made a change at offensive coordinator during this regular season—but it is hard to imagine where they would be if they didn’t make the move for Wallace, who will be seeing his former team in a little over a week from today.