Since the Miami Dolphins' 2014 NFL season ended with a loss to the New York Jets, speculation has surrounded wide receiver Mike Wallace and what the club might do with their top wide receiver. Wallace reportedly removed himself from that Week 17 game just before the half, then was benched the remainder of the game. Questions remain about whether or not Wallace and the team can come back together for the 2015 season, or have too many bridges been burned.
The concern over how Wallace can fit back with his teammates and back into a Miami offensive system that does not appear to play to the speedster's strengths, is coupled with the huge salary cap number Wallace will have this year. Between his base salary and his salary cap, Wallace will count for $12.1 million against the cap, with $9.6 million guaranteed. That number can be reduced to $5.2 million through cutting the wide receiver early in March and designating him a June 1 cut, which would give the Dolphins $6.9 million in salary cap space, but also open a hole on the roster at the number one receiver position.
Is the subtraction of Wallace addition for the Dolphins?
While that exact question continues to be debated, reports last week indicated the Dolphins were at least talking to Wallace. General manager Dennis Hickey reportedly had "a meal" with Wallace. What was discussed during their meeting is not known, but it is the first step toward deciding a future for the 2013 free agent signing.
A report earlier this week from the Miami Herald's Barry Jackson indicates the Dolphins could be looking to bring back Wallace, but potentially at a lower salary cap number. Jackson writes, "the Dolphins have been considering...raising the idea of a contract restructuring." How receptive Wallace would be to a new deal, one that would potentially pay him less this year, is not known. Miami could finds ways through bonuses and deferred money to bring down the cost this year, while ensuring Wallace still gets the money in the future.
"He's getting a bad rap right now," Dolphins left tackle Branden Albert told Jackson. "Mike Wallace is a good teammate. And he's a hell of a player." Jackson also writes that quarterback Ryan Tannehill has also has stated that he and Wallace can "make it work."
While Wallace is just one of many decisions the Dolphins will have to make over the next few weeks, that decision could be the biggest one facing Hickey and coach Joe Philbin. Keeping or releasing Wallace - a trade is unlikely due to his large contract - could be the determining factor in exactly how the Dolphins attack free agency and the Draft this year.