Mike Wallace quit on his team. Unless he didn’t.
Wallace is being forthcoming. Unless he’s not.
Those were the only two possibilities Monday, when Wallace directly denied multiple reports — including one by the Miami Herald — that he refused to re-enter the Dolphins’ season-ending loss to the Jets.
Wallace insisted that he did not tell his coaches that he was “done,” as his been reported. And he wants to return to the Dolphins in 2015, although he’s unsure if he will.
As for his coaching staff?
“I like my coaches,” Wallace said.
The day after yet another Dolphins season ended in disappointment, Wallace made his scheduled exit interview with coach Joe Philbin before speaking with reporters.
But he was short on specifics about what transpired on the Dolphins’ sideline late in the first half Sunday. Wallace spent the entire second half on the bench — a “coach’s decision,” he insisted.
“I was just told that I was done for the second half,” he said
Was your preference to get back out there and play?
“Of course,” he said
He didn’t and finished his second season in Miami with fewer catches, fewer yards and far fewer targets than he did in his first season.
Wallace did lead the Dolphins in receiving yards (862) and touchdowns (10), and yet, it was not enough to mollify the growing frustrating that he has felt in Miami.
Wallace has stewed, albeit quietly, for much of the season — never going off to the media but also making clear that he wasn’t happy, either.
Brandon Gibson has served as an unofficial spokesman for Wallace during this latest saga, and Monday he verbalized his friend’s state of mind.
“I know the frustrating part for him is not being involved as much as he wanted to be,” Gibson said. “I think that would be frustrating for any player in any situation, especially to a player at his caliber. He just wants to contribute. I know that, deep down.”
What is beyond dispute: Wallace, who just finished the second of a five-year, $60million contract, has seen his role decrease under first-year offensive coordinator Bill Lazor.
He was targeted 108 times in 2014 — down 21 percent from last year and the fewest since his rookie season.
But after Sunday’s antics, there’s fresh doubt about whether he will even be on the Dolphins roster in 2015. Philbin, back for at least another season, has a long history of shipping headaches out of town.
The Dolphins are deep at receiver. And Wallace’s contract has an escape hatch with just a moderate amount of pain.
If the Dolphins indeed decide to move on from Wallace, they likely have two options: trade him (which is unlikely, considering he’s due more than $30million in the next three years) or cut him under the June 1 designation.
In that scenario, he would count $5.2million against the cap in 2015 and $6.9million against it 2016. The move would free up roughly $7million in cap space in each of the next two years — more than enough to sign another high-end free agent receiver.
“Nothing has changed,” Philbin said. “I haven’t spent one second thinking about 2015 yet. We are taking a look at the film and watched the game film. I have meetings with every single player here the next day or so to get feedback, ways we can better, ways we can improve, things I can do better, things they can do better. I haven’t really thought about who is playing what position in 2015 or any of that stuff.”
As for quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who had a career year despite Wallace’s unhappiness, he seemed uncertain about his receiver’s future.
He prefaced his thoughts on 2015 with “if Mike’s here,” but did acknowledge the two “have to be on the same page in order to get better.”
“Obviously, we want to hit more deep balls to him,” Tannehill said. “That’s his forte. He’s got great speed. We want to get him the ball down the field. We’re going to take a long, hard look at why we didn’t this year and correct those over the offseason.”
Tannehill also suggested that the relationship between Wallace and organization is salvageable.
“That’s football,” Tannehill said. “It’s the business we’re in.
“You find a way. There’s a lot of time between now and April or whenever we start. There’s a lot of time to heal and get back on the same page and move forward.”