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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Mike Zimmer says he wants Mike Wallace to return in 2016

By Derek Wetmore

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — This is not the stat line Mike Wallace or the Vikings envisioned when the veteran receiver was traded to Minnesota : 39 catches on 72 targets for 473 yards and two touchdowns.

Those are pedestrian numbers by Wallace’s customary standards, as he matched his career-low for receptions in 2015. (The catch total ties his rookie season, when he played on a Super Bowl-bound Pittsburgh Steelers team that also included Hines Ward, a young Antonio Brown and Heath Miller.)

Still, Wallace never spoke out to the media about any frustrations with his role, even though he was given the platform do so on more than a dozen occasions.

“I was disappointed and, really, I’m disappointed more so with that it wasn’t the season that he wanted or we wanted,” head coach Mike Zimmer said Tuesday.

“I say this from my heart: I love this kid. I love the way he works, I love the way he competes. I texted him [Monday] night and basically said the same thing. I said, ‘I know this wasn’t exactly how we planned it out,’ but I love him as a person, a competitor, a football player, and I’m disappointed that it didn’t pan out the way I envisioned it. Really and honestly, he’s always going to be one of my kind of guys. I like this kid.”

But in the big business of the NFL, the fact Zimmer likes Wallace does not necessarily mean he’ll be back next year. Wallace is under contract for next season, but his salary cap hit trails only Adrian Peterson, and for a guy with fewer targets than Stefon Diggs, and fewer catches than Diggs and Kyle Rudolph, that’s an awfully steep price for the Vikings to pay in a league with capped team salary totals.

Including the playoff game, Wallace caught eight more passes than Peterson this season.

Wallace will cost the Vikings $11.5 million against the salary cap in 2016. In other words, it seems likely Minnesota would want to restructure that contract if they’re planning to keep him.

“I don’t know,” Zimmer said when asked if Wallace would return. “Those are things we have to determine this week and moving forward.

“I would like him back. I love the kid, I mean I love his heart, I love [that] he didn’t bitch one time about not getting the ball. He just went and worked every day and tried to get guys better. He loves it here, he loves Teddy [Bridgewater]. So if it can get worked out then I’d like to have him back, but I want to do what’s best for Mike Wallace, too.”

The final decision will be made by GM Rick Spielman, salary cap handler Rob Brzezinski and Zimmer.

In addition to a tricky decisions like Wallace’s, the Vikings have 14 pending unrestricted free agents.

“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,” Zimmer said. “They have shorter careers…and it’s important for me to get them to the right place, wherever they feel is right.”

The post Mike Zimmer says he wants Mike Wallace to return in 2016 appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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