Mike Wallace has a two-part message for Dolphins owner Stephen Ross.
2. And thanks for the cash.
Wallace, who signed a $60 million contract with the Dolphins in 2013 only to be off the team 24 months later, told local reporters Wednesday the harbors no ill will from his time in Miami.
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In fact, he’s grateful for it.
“I have no regrets,” Wallace said.
“They gave me a lot of money in two years. I have no grudge, no nothing against those guys. It’s all love on my end. My life is a lot better because of those guys.”
Wallace, who caught 140 passes and 15 touchdowns in his two years in Miami, will host his old team Sunday. He’s now a member of the Baltimore Ravens, his third club in as many seasons.
Wallace, now 30, is having a career renaissance in Baltimore; he is on pace to have his best statistical season since 2011, when he was catching passes from Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger.
It’s crazy to think now, but Wallace would still be under contract with the Dolphins for another year after this one if not for his messy divorce at the end of the 2014 season.
In that year’s finale, Wallace and then-coach Joe Philbin had some kind of sideline dispute.
The result: Wallace finished the game on the bench. There’s a difference in opinion as to what exactly happened. The Dolphins said privately at the time that Wallace refused to re-enter the game; Wallace has consistently suggested that he was benched, and did so again Wednesday.
“I never quit on my team,” Wallace said.
“That wasn’t the case. I would never do that. I worked hard every day. When you do that you want certain production from yourself and everybody. It was a frustrating incident where you wanted to do well and wanted the team to do well, and it just wasn’t going that way. I would never do anything to quit on my team.”
He would not play another snap for the Dolphins. They traded him to the Vikings for draft compensation the following offseason. Minnesota cut Wallace a year later.
Still, Wallace wouldn’t take a shot at Philbin when asked directly about his former coach Wednesday, saying instead that “we were good. It was an unfortunate incident at the end. My whole time was good until the last game.”
What Wallace didn’t say: He was frustrated for much of his two years in Miami, over his number of targets, over the way he was used and over the team’s mediocrity.
Wallace was brought here by Philbin and then-general manager Jeff Ireland to stretch the field. But he and Ryan Tannehill never really clicked deep; Wallace’s per-catch average during his two years in Miami (12.8) is well below his career average.
Wallace on Wednesday acknowledged that it’s “obvious we never [clicked]” downfield but again wouldn’t use the opportunity to take a shot.
“I think we had a really good relationship,” Wallace said. “Unfortunately, the way it ended it made it look like we didn’t. But I was always good with Ryan. I like Ryan. I think he’s a great guy, a hard worker and I see him getting better.”
Tannehill said later: “Mike was good. We did some good things. He got some big touchdowns for us, especially his second year here. Good memories of Mike being here and wish him the best — other than this week.”
Still, there’s no question that this week has special meaning for Wallace. Shortly after the Ravens beat the Bengals on Sunday, he posted a two-word tweet that speaks volumes: “7 days!”
“It’s exciting to play against my old team,” Wallace said. “A lot of people probably took [the tweet] the wrong way. But I have nothing against those guys. It just didn’t work out.”
But that doesn’t mean he is clamoring to return.
When asked if he was at all wistful that he was no longer here now that the Dolphins’ fortunes are much improved, Wallace said no.