Early in his career, Mike Wallace was considered to be one of the top up-and-coming wide receivers in the league. He had size, elite speed and could blow the top off of a defense with the greatest of ease. In 2010 and 2011, his second and third seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Wallace had 18 total touchdowns and more than 2,400 yards.
Following the 2012 season, he inked a five-year, $60 million deal with he Miami Dolphins, but he failed to have much of an impact and never eclipsed 1,000 yards in his two seasons. In fact, he hasn't had more than 1,000 yards since 2011. Yet, Wallace still believes he's a better receiver now than he was then.
"I think I've gotten better, even though [the] numbers don't say so," Wallace said, via ESPN. "I think I'll get better this year, and I'll show some people I have a lot up my sleeve."
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Now with the Baltimore Ravens after a one-year stint with the Minnesota Vikings, Wallace is 29 years old and appears to be on the tail-end of his career. Durability has never been a question, having missed just one game in his career, but some are doubting his speed. Even Wallace admits he isn't as fast as he once was.
"I've probably run about 10,000 post routes and go routes since when I first came into the league, so maybe just a step, a half a step," Wallace said. "But I can still get it done."
Speed questions aside, the 2015 season was a disaster. In 16 games, he caught just 39 passes for 473 yards and two touchdowns. He wasn't even the starter in four of those games, either. And that was on a team without great depth at wideout. Will a change of scenery and a big-armed quarterback in Joe Flacco revitalize Wallace's career? It's possible, and coach John Harbaugh is excited to have him on the roster.
"You can do anything with him," Harbaugh said. "He goes deep, he comes across, he runs routes [and] has good hands. I think he's just done a tremendous job as an all-around receiver, and I think he's going to be a big part of what we're doing this year."