Free agent wide receiver Mike Wallace is the centerpiece of the Miami Dolphins' 2013 offseason, and the team is expected to offer him a deal that will make him one of the best paid receivers in the league once free agency officially opens up at 4:00pm tomorrow.
As zero hour approaches, there is one question that is worth pondering.
How much money is too much for the Dolphins to give Wallace?
It is conceivable that another team, facing the same needs and having the requisite cap room, drives up the price for the top free agent on the market.
Miami has competition for Wallace's services; the Vikings just washed their hands of Michael Jenkins and Percy Harvin, leaving their depth chart nearly blank at the position. Other teams that are flush with cap space may be in play, i.e. Indianapolis, Cincinnati and Cleveland, and never rule out a dark horse team sweeping in at the last minute.
Is there a price that would make it acceptable for the Dolphins to pass on the speedster? Or is the prize of an elite wideout so great, so vital to the team's future that being out-bid is absolutely unacceptable?
With every player, there is a natural, reasonable price for a contract that is derived from what similar players are making. Overpaid is a term, even for quality players, that often gets placed on free agent signees who understandably took the highest offer given to them.
Some feel that the Dolphins overpaid for Brian Hartline at $6 million per year, which is valid considering some of the names that make less than that number. But the team's needs and available alternatives transcends people's senses of how dollar value is tied to relative value, and creates market value.
The Dolphins wanted to keep Hartline, assessed the market, and made their offer.
Which is the same approach they have to take with Wallace.
When attempting to sign the former Pittsburgh Steeler, Miami must decide if it will not allow itself to be outbid, or if it will limit the dollar value it'll commit to a single wide receiver.
Many reports have suggested Wallace's contract will fall around the 5-year, $60 million range. What if, hypothetically, another team offers $13.5 million-plus per season? Would it be OK for the Dolphins to pass, or must they step up and pay higher than most suggest he's worth?
That's a question Dolphins fans must ask themselves, because either scenario could happen.