Now, a report by Dan Pompei of National Football Post and the Chicago Tribune suggests that may actually happen.
According to Pompei, "Those who should know speculate his new deal will average more than $13 million per season." Fitzgerald averages just north of $14 million per season while never having hit the free agency market. It appears now the market is hot and heavy over Wallace, and the resulting bidding war could get him to the point many laughed at during this time last year.
Value is a tricky thing. It's established by comparing an entity to what's argued as a similar version of the subject. It wouldn't take a chief negotiator or an elite football mind to point out the differences between Mike Wallace and Larry Fitzgerald on the surface, but there are comparisons between the two that favor Wallace.
Value also does not necessarily equal cost or price. Outside influences and factors can determine a higher or lower price, even if the value isn't fully supported. For example, Miami GM Jeff Ireland being in a contract year, and needing to put a quality product on the field this season. If he gets fired, he doesn't care about how much money the Dolphins are paying Wallace.
Rest assured, Bus Cook, Mike Wallace's agent, is not going into negotiations using contracts from other deep threats throughout history. The price for his services increases year-to-year, meaning the most appropriate comparable contracts are the most recent ones.
Dwayne Bowe's contract - 5-year, $56 million, $15 million up front - probably isn't where Wallace wants to be. Vincent Jackson's $26 million in his first two years is probably closer, but Wallace, in his Pre-Todd Haley Offense career at least, out-performed Jackson in most categories.
Add in Ireland likely desperation and a lot of cap room in Miami (another team not paying their quarterback much), that magical $14 million average becomes more visible.
Even Pompei says Wallace will likely get overpaid this offseason. Everything is pointing toward that happening.