The Minnesota Vikings were an improved team in 2015 despite the loss in the Wild Card round of the playoffs. Teddy Bridgewater appeared improved while the return of Adrian Peterson and the trade for Mike Wallace helped push the offense in a better direction. However, changes will have to come in the offseason with limited salary cap space and Wallace could be the player that learns that the hard way.
Wallace was acquired last season from the Miami Dolphins with the idea that he would be the lead receiver in 2015. However, the rise of Stefon Diggs pushed Wallace out and the result was a career-low 473 yards on 39 catches with just two touchdowns. He had one catch against the Seattle Seahawks. Minnesota was not a big-play offense, but Wallace failed to make the impact the team needed. Set to earn $11.45 million in 2016, the Vikings have a decision to make on Wallace as they might not want to keep him at his current price. Head coach Mike Zimmer gave Wallace his endorsement for the future.
"I would like him back, I love the kid, I love his heart," Zimmer said, via the Minneapolis Star Tribune. "He just went and worked every day and tried to get guys better. He loves it here, he loves Teddy. If it can get worked out, I'd like to have him back. But I want to do what's best for Mike Wallace, too. I told most of the players that are free agents, that I want them to do what's best for them. Obviously, I want them back. It's important to me, they have shorter careers, not always than coaching, but they have shorter careers and it's important for me to make sure that they get to the right place, whatever they feel is right."
The Vikings have a few key players needing new contracts in the offseason, but they can afford to keep Wallace around. The issue is that Minnesota does not appear to be the best fit for the receiver which could be the deciding factor. Given what Diggs did this season, the Vikings might have confidence they can replace Wallace with a rookie or someone else in free agency like Travis Benjamin or Rishard Matthews.
The Vikings need to find some kind of offensive identity next year. They could not decide between being a run-first or pass-first offense. Bridgewater lacked consistency while Peterson admits his fumbles were a problem. Wallace could help in the effort, but getting someone younger and more explosive might be the end result.