Tom Pelissero of 1500espn.com is a must-read for any Vikings fan. His film breakdowns, quality beat reporting, and insightful columns are just a few reasons why I have referred to him as 'the hardest working beat man in show business'. And the couple times I've talked with him when I was, you know, bona fide those couple of times, he was nothing but helpful.
Earlier tonight, Tom Pelissero tweeted the following:
Personal opinion: if you can move Percy Harvin for a second-round pick and pay Mike Wallace instead, you do it. Changes dynamic of offense.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) March 8, 2013
And there was also this:
A passing game that revolves around throws behind the line of scrimmage scares no one, even if it is Percy Harvin catching them.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) March 8, 2013
Whoa. I get that Harvin has been a pain in the ass, and I get that the Vikings passing game hasn't been what one would call intimidating...but Mike Wallace was a pain in the ass for the Steelers, and Wallace isn't a lot guy, and I don't think he's the dynamic playmaker that Percy Harvin is. This isn't to say Wallace isn't good, but he has a different skill set than Harvin.
So what is this evil Mike Wallace voodoo that is infecting Vikings fans?
I'm kind of surprised that the rumors of the Vikings making a run at Mike Wallace have not only taken hold, but it's an idea that is supported by a guy as prominent as Pelissero. He notes in his latest column that although many people think the Vikings are up against the cap, they have plenty of room to offer Wallace a top dollar contract, and the Wilfs have been willing to spend money on a guy if they felt he was worth it:
The Vikings have plenty of [money] to compete with the receiver-needy likes of the Miami Dolphins for Wallace's services, no matter what some bloated cap figures say.
They ranked 13th in the NFL with $17.1 million in cap space as of Monday morning, according to a source with access to the numbers, and have spent more cash on players (about $922 million) since the Wilfs bought the team in 2005 than any team except the Indianapolis Colts.
A couple of things bother me about going after Wallace. For one, I don't know that you can afford to pay Wallace and Percy Harvin. Maybe there's a way the Vikings can, but there's also the Harvin dynamic: if he's not happy now about his contract now (and like Fearless Leader said about this earlier--when they say it's not about the money, it's always about the money), how will he react if Wallace is given a huge contract, and he hasn't been?
Maybe both Wallace and Harvin will get new deals, and we'll all sing Kum-bay-ah around the campfire, but I'm not counting on it. If the Vikes sign Wallace, that would seem to signal they're getting ready to move Harvin, and that, potentially, would really change the look of the offense.
And not necessarily for the better.
Wallace is almost a pure deep threat, something the Vikings have sorely been lacking since 2009. So let's say, for the sake of argument, the Vikings sign him. If Wallace becomes your bona fide deep threat and the Vikings move Harvin, who moves into the slot? The primary candidate would seem to be Jarius Wright. I viewed Wright as a poor man's Percy Harvin, and he seemed ideally suited for the slot position when he was drafted out of Arkansas. Yet when he finally got to play late last season, he did very well as a deep threat option for the Vikings, and he had a 54 and 65 yard reception, the two longest catches of the season by any Vikings receiver.
Which is why I kind of take exception to that second Pelissero tweet. When Wright started playing after Harvin got put on IR, he stretched the field. Now, don't misinterpret what I'm saying here--this was still an offense that ran through Adrian Peterson, and it's not like Wright was catching weekly 75 yard rainbows from Christian Ponder.
And in 2013, this offense will still go through Adrian Peterson. And if you're Mike Wallace, will you want to come to an offense where the run is emphasized like it is in Minnesota? Of course, the flip side to that argument could be a sales pitch to the effect that Wallace coming to Minnesota means the offense will open up.
So assuming the Vikings can't keep both Harvin and Wallace, it comes down to this--what would be a better combination for the Vikings, Mike Wallace as the deep threat and Jarius Wright in the slot, or Wright as the deep guy with Harvin in the slot? I think Harvin is still the most dangerous weapon the Vikings have, and they would lose more by trading Harvin and signing Wallace. Consider:
Harvin the kick returner is a weapon that can't be discounted in this equation. He's the most dangerous return man in the game, and that would be a HUGE loss for the Vikings:
And even though Harvin's primary role as a receiver was taking short passes and making something happen, that's not necessarily a bad strategy if used effectively. With Wright hopefully on the field for the whole season as a potentially effective deep threat and guy that can stretch the field, that might open up things underneath for Harvin, giving us opportunities to see more of this:
Pay Harvin, give Wright a chance, and either sign a WR in free agency not named Mike Wallace, draft a WR, or both.
Because for me, the only Mike Wallace I want to watch is on old 60 Minutes reruns.