I think a lot of us were sentimentally attached to the idea of Jeremy Maclin being reunited with the franchise that drafted him. After all, when healthy Maclin seems like he still has the speed and the skill set to replace the complementary receiving role left vacant by the trade of Torrey Smith to Carolina. Seems like the Eagles had a choice to go after Maclin if he were willing to work on a one-year deal for about $4 million or so…but they also had Maclin’s alter ego Mike Wallace to consider. Both players are like twins in every sense of athletic evaluation and professional experience. Both became suddenly available at the same time as free agents. Yet I’m glad the Eagles chose Wallace. To my EYE test he is the guy who has a little more left in the tank. He is the guy who wants it just a little bit more at this stage in his career.
Former Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Mike Wallace has agreed to a one-year contract with the Philadelphia Eagles, the team announced Thursday. Wallace’s deal is worth up to $4 million, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Wallace, 31, was the Ravens’ most reliable wide receiver last season despite a decline in his numbers. He caught 52 passes for 748 yards receiving, for a Marty Mornhinweg-led offense which rarely threw the ball downfield.
Jeremy Maclin was in that same Ravens offense in 2017. He had a lousy season, due to some nagging health issues but also due to his mentally checking out of many games he started because Marty and an ailing Joe Flacco (knee, back) could not or would not get the ball to him.
Mike Wallace became a free agent…Jeremy Maclin was recently released from the Ravens.
A third-round pick by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2009, Wallace has played for the Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings and Ravens over the past five seasons. He has 538 career receptions for 8,072 yards and 57 touchdown catches in nine seasons and was a Pro Bowl selection with the Steelers in 2011.
Tim McManus of ESPN.com grades the move:
“Grade: B. The Eagles needed a deep threat after trading receiver Torrey Smith to the Carolina Panthers, and got one by signing Wallace. The former Steelers receiver had 52 catches for 748 yards with 4 touchdowns to pace the Baltimore Ravens last season. He was able to stretch the field, totaling eight plays of 50 yards or longer in his two seasons in Baltimore, which topped the NFL, and has 115 catches of 20-plus yards over nine NFL seasons.
What it means: Wallace will compete with second-year wideout Mack Hollins for snaps on the outside opposite Alshon Jeffery. Hollins was effective in a limited role last season, catching 16 balls on 22 targets for 226 yards with a touchdown. The Eagles also spent a fifth-round pick last April on burner Shelton Gibson out of West Virginia. While Hollins showed promise, this gives coach Doug Pederson some depth and options at receiver, and allows Nelson Agholor to remain primarily in the slot, where he thrived last year.
What’s the risk: Wallace publicly campaigned to get the ball more last season — an action that, while understandable to an extent given the receiver struggles in Baltimore, would not have been received well in the Eagles locker room. A big key to Philadelphia’s success was a result of individuals like Jeffery sacrificing their own numbers for the overall health of the offense. It worked because of a selfless culture that Pederson helped establish, and one that Wallace will have to accept. Wallace had three drops last season, per ESPN Stats & Information, the same number as Smith. Overall, this move is a win for the Eagles, who add a potential difference-maker without having to commit to him for the long term.”
To be fair, Wallace was not the only receiver on the Ravens lobbying for more targets last season. Maclin was losing his mind over the same objective. Both guys were running intricate routes only to look back and sigh as Flacco dumped yet another check-down pass to his running back or his tight end within the constrictions of Coach Marty’s offense.
Wallace handled the frustration a lot better than Maclin did.
Maclin and Wallace are essentially the same guys age-wise and speed-wise. Maclin may actually be a slightly better route-runner. But Wallace has a slightly more competitive edge when things get nasty on the field of play, or when a completion comes down to winning a jump ball.
Looking back at Wallace’s draft out of Ole Miss by the Steelers back in 2009:
Wallace is not as fast as that Combine clock anymore… he’s probably closer to a 4.43 in the ’40 these days. But he’s still fast enough to make defenses account for him downfield.
Not that it’s guaranteed, but Wallace has shown he’s a lot more durable than Jeremy Maclin, missing only 2 games in 9 seasons: