Miami Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey met with the media yesterday at the NFL Scouting Combine. While Hickey is in town to look at draft prospects, it is the situation with the club's star wide receiver that dominated the discussion during Hickey's 15 minute press availability.
During the team's final game this past season, wide receiver Mike Wallace was benched for the entire second half of the contest. Reports have indicated Wallace removed himself from the game at the end of the first half, which led to his benching. Wallace has denied the reports, but something definitely caused him to not be allowed back onto the field in for the final 30 minutes of the game.
Wallace is owed $12.1 million this upcoming season, a year in which the Dolphins need to find relief against the cap. If the team designates Wallace as a post-June 1 cut, he could, ultimately, save the team $6.9 million this year.
Hickey was asked about how he will decide if Wallace returns to the team, or if he will be released. "Through our process, we're looking at each individual situation, with all of our players," Hickey replied. "In the salary cap era, you have challenging decisions you have to make each year. We're going through that process. We're further along in that process than we were a month ago, when we talked at the Super Bowl. We're still working on it. We judge each player, each decision on an individual basis. The goal is to make the best decision for the Miami Dolphins."
Wallace and Hickey recently ate dinner together, about which Hickey was asked on Wednesday. "Had a good conversation. We have an open line of communication. We always feel like we have an open door for all of our players, whether it be the coaching staff, myself, always keeping that open line of communication."
Wallace voiced frustration several times during the season, a year in which rookie wide out Jarvis Landry began to overtake Wallace as quarterback Ryan Tannehill's go-to receiver and in which the deep connection between Tannehill and Wallace never fully materialized. Hickey, however, saw it as more than just frustration with Wallace's production as a receiver, relating it to the frustration everyone had at how the season ended. "For all of us, as the season unfolded, late in the year, we were all frustrated about how the season ended. That's what we're focused on now, addressing, confronting the reality of where we're at, and how do we get to where we want to be? That's what we spent the last five or six weeks looking at hard, and talking through and working together in a collaborative fashion, to work through that. The goal is to be better."
The Dolphins will look to get better for 2015 over the next few of weeks as they finish their evaluations of the draft prospects at the Scouting Combine and in private workouts as well as developing their plan for how to attack free agency. Will Wallace be a member of the roster by that time?