I know the knocks against Wallace: Held out last year, supposedly all about the money. And the lingering question: Why would the smart Steelers let him go? But his speed and upside are too great to pass by. He’s too good a fit.
It is crucial Miami sign Wallace not only for what he will mean on the field but also for the value in public perception, with him so clearly the free agent priority. See, the Dolphins are trying to shake four consecutive losing years and be seen as headed right again at a time when the club faces a likely public referendum on $400 million in planned stadium improvements.
Dolphins fans and the electorate are close to one in the same in Miami-Dade County, so the franchise needs fans happy or at least hopeful running up to that vote. Trotting out Wallace as a prize catch, a fresh face of optimism, couldn’t hurt.
Ireland has not had a great track record as a closer — another reason landing Wallace would be a personal victory as much as a win for the team. Ireland tried to hire coach Jim Harbaugh. Didn’t. Tried to hire coach Jeff Fisher. Failed. Went hard after QB Peyton Manning. Lost him.
Ireland needs Wallace as much as Miami’s offense does.
The danger here, though, is to think Wallace alone will mean a successful free agency period. The Dolphins need lots more.
Offensively, they also need a tight end more impactful than Anthony Fasano, which is why somebody like Martellus Bennett or Jared Cook could help.
Another running back will be needed with Reggie Bush reportedly going-going-gone — so rumors about Rashard Mendenhall, another ex-Steeler, are intriguing. Lamar Miller has potential but is unproven, and Daniel Thomas is an OK backup. Signing a healthy Mendenhall to challenge Miller would be an invigorating jolt.
Left tackle? I have a feeling Miami might yet re-sign Jake Long if the market is less for him than he had hoped, but not many agree. So adding a tackle could be essential.
Defensively, the Dolphins did well to keep tackle Randy Starks (via the franchise tag), but cornerback remains a need as urgent as receiver. That assumes Sean Smith leaves but probably is true even otherwise. Miami should be considering anyone with proven talent even if the overall package has flaws. Somebody like Aqib Talib comes to mind. DeAngelo Hall, perhaps?
Safety and a pass rusher are other needs — but not like cornerback is. (Speaking of safety, bringing the old Cane Ed Reed home to Miami for a season isn’t the dumbest idea I have ever heard, or proposed. Charles Woodson might also be a tempting Band-Aid.)
It’s axiomatic that a franchise that hasn’t won a playoff game since 2000 has personnel needs deep or broad or both.
For Miami, then, Wallace wouldn’t be the only answer, but he would step up as the fresh face of the solution.
That’s why Dolfans will be watching devoutly that metaphoric smokestack Tuesday, praying for puffs of white.