Due to their sunny location, the Miami Dolphins have emerged as the "lead dog" for the services of field-stretching wide receiver Mike Wallace when the free-agent signing period begins at 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Alex Marvez of FOXSports.com reports.
"He prefers warm weather," Marvez's source said of Wallace, a New Orleans native who played his college at Mississippi.
After trading Brandon Marshall to the Chicago Bears on the first day of the 2012 league year, the Dolphins had a hole at the top of their receiving depth chart. Brian Hartline led the team with 74 receptions for 1,083 yards, a productive season he parlayed into a five-year, $30.775 million extension that will keep him off the free-agent market. The Dolphins still have a need for a top-flight receiver and Wallace certainly fits the bill.
Wallace had a somewhat "down" season in 2012, catching 64 passes for 836 yards for a career-low 13.1 yards per catch average. However, Wallace had eight receiving touchdowns, five more than the entire Dolphins receiving corps produced last season, his third consecutive season with eight or more receiving touchdowns. Even with a 13.1-yard average last season, Wallace is averaging over 17 yards per catch during his four-year career where he's caught 235 passes for 4,042 yards and 32 touchdowns.
Wallace is expected to seek a contract worth $12 million per season with between $25 million to $30 million in guaranteed money. The Dolphins have over $35 million in available cap space entering the new league year as they're allowing players like left tackle Jake Long and cornerback Sean Smith to test the free-agent market. Perhaps more important than cap space, the Dolphins have just over $71 million in cash commitments for next season, the second-lowest total in the league. That puts them in position to be aggressive in their pursuit of players needed to challenge the New England Patriots in the AFC East.