Mike Wallace was one of the NFL's highest-paid free agents this offseason, joining the Miami Dolphins on a five-year, $60 million deal after spending the first four seasons of his career with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
According to his father, he left money on the table before choosing to make the move to South Beach.
Speaking to USA Today's Jim Corbett, Mike Wallace III claimed his son turned down $76 million in total money from the Minnesota Vikings during the 2013 free-agency period. Minnesota, who signed Greg Jennings and drafted Cordarrelle Patterson in April's draft, was considered one of the contenders for Wallace's services prior to his commitment to Miami.
Wallace himself commented on the decision to choose the Dolphins—who went 7-9 and missed the playoffs in the AFC—over the Vikings—who went 10-6 and lost in the NFC Wild Card Round to the Green Bay Packers—after Miami's practice on Wednesday:
In free agency, with so many great guys, when you get the prize deal, it's always a good feeling...I just wanted to be happy. Money isn't everything. A lot of people last year, when I held out in Pittsburgh, took it the wrong way, felt like I was just being greedy.
I performed so well for so long, I just wanted to be well compensated...I feel I got a bad rep. Free agency paid off for me. But it was bittersweet. The money is not all I'm in it for. I want to be a great player—win Super Bowls, go to Pro Bowls continuously.
Wallace's father said Miami fans are going to be happy with his son's production over the next few years with second-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill and a young roster, and also implored those who think the fifth-year wide receiver is selfish to think again.
For his career, Wallace has 235 receptions, 4,042 yards receiving, 32 touchdowns and made a Pro Bowl appearance in 2011. He also led the league in yards per reception (19.4) during his rookie season out of Ole Miss, but he had a down year characterized by drops and lapses in focus in 2012.
He lost favor with fans in Pittsburgh after a contract holdout that ended just before the regular season began in 2012, and his performance on the field didn't live up to his demands of a big contract to stick around in Steel City.
Now in Miami, Wallace will be expected to stretch the field in the team's pass-happy offense. Tannehill threw for nearly 3,300 yards last season but totaled just 12 passing touchdowns—a number that Wallace is expected to increase exponentially.
Speaking to reporters back in May (via Andy Cohen for MiamiDolphins.com), Wallace expressed excitement in his new role with the team, and also a sense of happiness in his choice. He also noted that he was in town to stretch the field and take pressure off of an unproven running game that no longer includes Reggie Bush.
Wallace joins Brian Hartline and Brandon Gibson as the team's standout receivers, and he'll have a chance to prove that he's all about results (and not all about the money) when Miami's season opens up against Cleveland in September.
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