During the last game of the season for the Miami Dolphins, it appeared that Mike Wallace had either benched himself or was benched by the coaching staff after arguments concerning the Dolphins' play calling. This wasn't the fist time Wallace was upset with the coaching staff. Earlier in the season, he showed his frustration in Miami's 20-16 loss to the Detroit Lions. Wallace has seemed to be frustrated many times this past season with not only the lack of deep targets he's receiving, but also the number of targets he's seeing per game.
"We can't keep doing this on offense," Wallace said, via ESPN.com. "We can't be up and down to be the team that we want to be. We have to be able to finish football games."
Now should Miami let Wallace go?
As much as I do believe Wallace should keep his mouth shut, he has been right sometimes. I think Miami could have attempted to hit Wallace with a few more deep passes. Although, if you take a look at Wallace's stats, they are not much different from when he was with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Miami targeted him 115 times this year while the most targets in Pittsburgh he received was 119. He had 67 catches this year and the most catches with the Steelers was 72. He also had 10 touchdowns this year which tied a career high. He hasn't had over 1,000 yards since 2011, so if he's upset about that, he has to remember that even in his last season with the Steelers, he wasn't able to reach that mark.
Wallace has the right to voice his opinions about the offense but I don't see what the huge problem is. He has had two pretty good seasons with Miami, and his stats haven't had that much of a decline. He has to accept that with Ryan Tannehill, he's not going to be as much of a deep threat. At this point in Tannehill's career, he is just not a deep thrower like Ben Roethlisberger. So as far as his production, I believe Miami still can trust that Wallace will be productive. With that said, his contract will come into play so let's take a look at that.
Wallace counts $12.1 million against the cap next year and Miami would reduce that figure only $2.5 million by releasing him. Miami would save $6.9 million if he’s a post-June 1st cut because his cap hit would be spread out over two seasons. If Miami does decide to get rid of him, they would have to either cut or trade him. His trade value could decline if teams know Miami is trying to dump him, so that might not be the best idea.
Wallace is the fourth highest paid receiver in the NFL and it is apparent he hasn't played up to that potential. I think with the type of offense Miami has, and with Ryan Tannehill behind center, that won't change either. Miami is going to keep getting what they are getting from him, unless Tannehill improves his deep throwing.
Miami will have to make a tough decision though. With their cap space, releasing some space is needed. So does this mean if they keep Wallace that Hartline or Gibson go? Hartline has a $7.4 million cap figure next season and the Dolphins would free up $3.2 million by cutting him. Gibson would count $4.3 million against the cap. Cutting him would free up $3.3 million. Hartline had a huge down year compared to his two past seasons in which he had over 70 catches and 1,000 yards. This year, he had only 39 catches for 474 yards. If we are to challenge next year is this really good enough?
Neither Hartline or Gibson are serious redzone threats though, and losing Wallace would mean an immediate replacement for touchdown production. Wallace did say he wanted to return to Miami but was unsure how the team felt.
"I'm not the general manager or anything, or the head coach," Wallace said, per the Sun-Sentinel. "I'm not sure."
Keeping Wallace will ultimately mean getting rid of other players, and Miami has to weigh out the pros and cons of the situation and make their decision. Wallace is a dependable receiver, but is he worth the money, and the possibility of his frustration affecting the team?
This column was written by Justin Lemanski. Follow him on Twitter: @TheKidJTL