MIAMI (AP) – Minnesota acquired wide receiver Mike Wallace from the Miami Dolphins on Friday, another attempt by the Vikings to establish a reliable deep threat and a move by the Dolphins for salary cap relief.
The Vikings will send a fifth-round draft pick to the Dolphins for their seventh-round selection in the swap that was finalized on Friday night.
The trade came two years after the Vikings tried to sign Wallace, who was benched by Dolphins coach Joe Philbin in the second half of their final game last season after an argument between the 28-year-old and the coaching staff. Wallace led the Dolphins with 10 touchdowns in 2014, his second season with the team, but he rarely clicked with quarterback Ryan Tannehill on long passes and was unhappy he wasn’t targeted more.
Wallace was Miami’s highest-paid player until the signing of star defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh to a $114 million, six-year contract. That made the Dolphins eager to create more space under their salary cap, and with Wallace due $9.9 million this season he became an obvious target. Wallace has three years left on the deal he signed with the Dolphins that’s worth as much as $60 million with $30 million guaranteed.
“We thank Mike for his contributions to the team over the last two seasons,” Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey said in a statement distributed by the team. “We wish him the best in the Minnesota.”
When the Vikings didn’t get Wallace in 2013, they brought in Greg Jennings instead. Jennings will carry an $11 million salary cap hit this season, giving the Vikings quite the expensive pair of pass-catchers. If Wallace can consistently stretch the field for quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, though, he’ll probably be worth it.
After releasing Jerome Simpson in September following his latest off-the-field trouble, the Vikings rarely completed deep passes. Until December, when waiver-wire pick-up Charles Johnson had emerged as a big-play producer, Bridgewater hit only four throws that netted more than 30 yards. Since trading Randy Moss 10 years ago, this search has persisted for the Vikings.
Wallace has 47 touchdown receptions over six seasons in the NFL. His best year was 2010, when he averaged 21 yards per catch, scored 10 times and finished with 1,257 yards.
The Dolphins found a replacement for Wallace earlier Friday, obtaining Kenny Stills from New Orleans for veteran linebacker Dannell Ellerbe and a 2015 third-round draft pick. Stills had 63 receptions for 931 yards and three touchdowns last year, and he’s on par with Wallace as a deep threat. The Dolphins have revamped their corps of targets for Tannehill this offseason, signing free agent tight end Jordan Cameron on Thursday after earlier releasing veteran wide receivers Brian Hartline and Brandon Gibson.
This was Minnesota’s first big splash of the offseason, after a quiet start to free agency marked by the signing of backup quarterback Shaun Hill and the re-signing of defensive tackle Tom Johnson, running back Matt Asiata, long snapper Cullen Loeffler and guard Joe Berger, all bit players.
The Vikings were hosting free agent defensive end Michael Johnson on Friday, however, with the possibility of adding a pass rusher who had 21 sacks over his last three seasons with Cincinnati, from 2011-13 with current Vikings coach Mike Zimmer as his defensive coordinator there. Johnson played last year for Tampa Bay.
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