It speaks to the desperate nature of teams looking for explosive receivers in the age of nuclear passing attacks that two highly-flawed players like Mike Wallace and Percy Harvin are drawing so much interest.
Wallace is a free agent, while Harvin is still under contract with Minnesota, but a number of team officials expect the Vikings to trade him to a wide receiver-starved team. Team sources say the Miami Dolphins are the leaders to sign Wallace to an expected deal in the range of $12 million annually.
|More on NFL|
Steven Jackson, the great free-agent sleeper of 2013
|More NFL coverage|
This is the most interesting thing about two of the most talked about players this offseason: both are highly flawed -- one player off the field, the other player on it.
But it doesn't matter. Teams are so desperate to sign proven receiving talent to keep up with a sport which penalizes defensive backs for heavy breathing, they are willing to overlook both the personal and mechanical foibles of these two players, and are willing to give up massive amounts of resources to acquire each.
There was a time (and not so long ago) when league execs would have scoffed at paying such a large sum to a one-dimensional player like Wallace. Not anymore. With the NFL flush in cash and offenses more, well, offensive than ever, an average receiver is treated like Jerry Rice and a good one like gold bullion. Anyone with speed is viewed as a swimsuit model, even if that WR actually looks like Desmond Bryant's mugshot.
“Speed kills but it also blinds,” said one general manager.
If you had to pick one of the two, however, it would be Wallace.
This will surprise some. Harvin has multidimensional explosiveness -- he can run a go route or just go around you. He can attack the edges or be a threat in the middle. He's also a force on special teams. There were times last year when Harvin was among the top five weapons in football.
Wallace, meanwhile, is not nearly as versatile. In 2009, he ran a 4.2 40 at the NFL Scouting Combine. He's fast, but Wallace lacks agility. He's not a threat in the middle of the field -- just deep. But because Wallace is only six feet, he can't use height to out-jump defenders the way, say, 6-foot-4 Randy Moss once did.
Wallace had one unbelievable season, but hasn't duplicated it, and the reason why is that teams adapted to his abilities.
Wallace is good. Solid. Just fine. But this isn't Megatron we're talking about.
Harvin is clearly the superior talent, so why am I saying Wallace is the better selection for a team?
Harvin is a major headache off the field.
He has been for much of his career. In high school, Harvin was such a troubled player he was suspended for a nice a chunk of his career. He allegedly failed a drug test while at University of Florida and had a reported altercation with a Gators assistant coach.
With the Vikings, he got into another heated altercation, this time with offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave. There was also a reported altercation with former head coach Brad Childress. Then, last season, he got into another heated argument, this time with head coach Leslie Frazier.
That's a lot of heateds and a lot of coaches and a lot of heateds.
Frazier is possibly the nicest man in the entire NFL. Arguing with him is like fighting with your grandpop.
This is why the Vikings are trying to trade Harvin. He might be un-coachable.
Think about it. The Vikings don't want one of the more raw, physical talents in football. That says a great deal.
And this is why Wallace is the better choice. Not only will a team have to give up picks to get Harvin, you're going to have a pay a guy an exorbitant amount of money who has consistently alienated coaching staffs.
Wallace can be coached out of his on-field issues. Harvin can't be coached out of his off-field ones.
So Wallace over Harvin. Barely. In an average offseason for wideouts.