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Vikings Free Agency: Breaking Down The Mike Wallace Trade

What are the pros and cons of the surprising deal the Vikings pulled off a little while ago?

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Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier today, the Minnesota Vikings pulled off what amounts to a stunner of a trade. Dolphins WR Mike Wallace comes to Minnesota, along with Miami's 7th round draft pick. In exchange, the Vikings send one of two fifth round picks to Miami. As I saw repeated on Twitter by multiple folks, the Vikings essentially traded Matt Cassel, who was traded to Buffalo for a fifth round pick, for Mike Wallace.

Whoa. Not a bad deal. But wait, doesn't he have a huge cap number? Let's look at that.

Wallace supposedly spurned bigger money with the Vikings and signed a 5 year, $60 million dollar deal ($30 million guaranteed) with the Dolphins in 2013. He now comes to the Vikings on what is essentially a one year 'prove it' deal for both sides.

Wallace, who will make $9,850,000 in 2015, is scheduled to make $11,450,000 in the last two years of his contract, 2016 and 2017. But all the guaranteed money is done after 2015, and there will be no dead money, and henceforth no cap penalty should the Vikings decide not to retain his services after this coming season.

So although he's making a hefty paycheck this year, it's not a long term issue moving forward regarding the salary cap. So if Wallace pans out, and he wants to stay here this time, it will be easy to re-structure his deal if both parties want to. Because let's face it, no matter what kind of numbers he puts up this year for the Vikings, no one in the NFL is going to pay him over 11 large in '16 and '17.

So is Mike Wallace going to be overpaid in 2015? Yeah, he is. Does it matter after 2015? No, not at all. And it's really not that big of a deal for 2015, either.

With the trade, Minnesota is now a shade over $8 million under the salary cap, and that includes the contract of Wallace, Adrian Peterson, and a couple of other guys who have to be considered prime candidates for re-structuring or worse--Chad Greenway and Greg Jennings. I still think Greenway is gone, but I don't see Jennings leaving.  We'll see.

Once the trade went down, Miami Herald columnist Armando Salguero also tweeted this out, alluding to Wallace's past diva-ish tendencies:

At first I was worried this might be a problem, but yeah, I think Wallace will be okay when he realizes he has Teddy Bridgewater to throw him the ball, and Norv Turner to get him said ball. If that fails, yeah...Mike Zimmer will nip that in the bud before it becomes an issue, I would think. So I'm not as worried about that as I initially was.

But now let's consider some on the field positives Wallace brings. For one, this is a legitimate deep threat the Vikings have lacked since...Randy Moss, maybe? You could argue Percy Harvin, but he wasn't really used as a deep threat guy, more of a perimeter guy who then used his speed in a mismatch. SIdney Rice, maybe, but Sid was never a guy that had afterburners. Cordarrelle Patterson? For whatever reason, that hasn't worked out.

Wallace has blazing speed, and it can't be emphasized enough how a guy with his kind of speed has to be accounted for. Now, if a guy has speed and can't catch (coughTroyWilliamsoncough), that's one thing. But Wallace is a reliable receiver (four drops and one fumble in 2014) that you can't let roam free. That allows the offense to stretch the field on a regular basis, and forces the defense to play honest and not key on one phase of the game.

That can dramatically affect the VIkings running game--whoever is carrying the ball for the Vikings in 2015. With Minnesota finally able to field a competent quarterback who has a legit deep threat, it's going to make things at the line of scrimmage easier for the running game, something we haven't seen in recent years. And if Adrian Peterson returns--and it's starting to feel that way with each passing day--this is a huge development.

Finally, the offense as a whole looks pretty respectable right now. The wide receivers feel like Jennings, Wallace, Charles Johnson, Jarius Wright, Patterson, and Adam Thielen right now, assuming they all return. Johnson and Wallace on the outside with Greg Jennings in the slot looks like a really strong three man group, and when you add in Patterson/Wright in four wide sets, there's a lot of potential for damage there. Add in Kyle Rudolph, and this as the makings of a pretty legitimate passing attack.

So the bottom line in all of this is that the Vikings have Mike Wallace for one year. He's expensive, but he doesn't blow up the salary cap, and he adds a legitimate deep threat in an offense that loves to throw deep.