It had been a while since the last time that he was relevant in the AFC North, but it would be hard to deny that former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace had a strong season for the Baltimore Ravens in his first year with the team in 2016.
It is because of that that his head coach, John Harbaugh, will remain a part of their offensive efforts in 2017, even if his front office counterparts could have something to say on that matter. Wallace was a big component of their offense last year, but the reality is that he has an $8 million cap hit currently scheduled for this year, which is the fifth-largest on the team.
As explained by OverTheCap.com, Wallace signed a two-year deal with the Ravens last year worth $11.5 million that included a $4.5 million signing bonus. That produces $2.25 million in prorated cap space for 2017. He is also schedule to earn a base salary of $4.75 million with a $1 million roster bonus due.
That works out to an even $8 million, but their cap savings would be $5.75 million—which is space they could use, as they have less than $14 million in space.
The site explains that the second year of the deal is a club option—it erroneously says 2018 instead of 2017—and choosing not to exercise it would make Wallace a free agent and save them the aforementioned value in cap space. But considering what they have to work with on offense, can they really risk it?
Wallace did seem to work well with Joe Flacco last year, tying a career-high with 72 receptions and posting his first 1000-yard season since 2011, the third of his career. He also caught four touchdowns, although it is worth noting that that is the second-lowest total in his eight-year career.
But the former third-round pick of the Steelers would be an even bigger component of the Ravens’ offense in 2017 following the retirement of Steve Smith and the fact that Dennis Pitta is also a strong possibility to be a salary cap casualty. Kamar Aikan is also a free agent.
That is why Harbaugh spoke so strongly about Wallace recently, saying, “I want Mike Wallace on our football team” while at the Combine. “Circumstances, contracts, salary cap are another conversation that you have about every single guy. But my anticipation is Mike Wallace will be a part of our team…and I’m planning on having him back next year”.
Following his first season with an annual yards per reception figure of at least 14 since 2011, Harbaugh said that Wallace “was a big, integral part of our team last year” and that he is a “top-flight competitor” with “a chip on his shoulder”, saying “that’s what you love about him”.