Hyde: Wallace decision should be an easy one

The Miami Dolphins need to add talent this offseason. How in the world would throwing Mike Wallace overboard help that?

Way back in the beginning, new Dolphins coach Joe Philbin decided he'd never get the best from cornerback Vontae Davis. There were reasons. Davis was immature. He reeked of alcohol on occasion at work. He needed potty breaks in practice.

Philbin thought Davis wouldn't grow up and had him traded to Indianapolis. The storyline turned there, and, on Sunday, the Pro Bowl cornerback anchors the Colts secondary in the AFC Championship game at New England.

Davis obviously grew up. Now we see how much Philbin has. Maturity, you see, isn't just a players' issue. A coach has to learn from mistakes and grow into the job, too. Even one entering his fourth season at the helm.

This is the necessary background to the Dolphins decision on what to do with receiver Mike Wallace, which really shouldn't be much of a decision at all.

"I don't know what's going to happen,'' Dolphins owner Steve Ross said when asked about Wallace's future on Friday.

If Philbin's three years have taught anything, the lesson is how you can't keep throwing talent overboard and improve. A coach needs to manage great, if sometimes flawed, players who help you win.

Wallace threw the kind of tantrum in the season finale that is inexcusable. He says he didn't quit on the team. Others say he did. Philbin obviously saw enough to bench his best offensive playmaker for the season's final half. No teammate complained.

So there's some fence-mending to be done by Wallace. Some more growing up to do, too. But there's also a wide margin between saying he was dead wrong and saying he needs to be cut.

The Dolphins can't cut Wallace and just assume they'll replace his team-high 10 touchdowns. Only a few teams can do that. Seattle, for instance, traded disgruntled receiver Percy Harvin this season.

Seattle also made it to the Super Bowl last year without him (he played in that game) and made it back to Sunday's NFC Championship game. It has the depth of talent the Dolphins only dream about.

Harvin is a different kind of problem than Wallace, too. He's different than Davis, Sean Smith and Karlos Dansby — all good players Philbin didn't want for various reasons.

Harvin fought with teammates and caused problems inside teams dating to his Florida days. Seattle players seemed to rally around the decision to cut him, as happens on occasion. The Detroit Pistons jettisoned problem child Josh Smith a few weeks ago and immediately won seven consecutive games.

Wallace isn't a cancerous cell like that. He's liked by players. He generally behaved himself (at least publicly), even if he was increasingly frustrated by quarterback Ryan Tannehill's inability to throw the deep pass until late last year.

Wallace's oversized contract is part of this, too. The Dolphins probably would like to trade it (and Wallace might welcome a trade). But it's hard to imagine another team taking his $12.1 million deal for 2015.

Adding to the issue is the June 1 deadline. The Dolphins save $6.9 million in cap space and carry over $5.2 million if they cut him after that date. Cut him before then and they carry a staggering $9.6 million cap hit against only a $2.6 million savings.

The same contract idea and lesser figures hold for receivers Brian Hartline and Brian Gibson, too. They're all not coming back. Certainly Wallace and Hartline will be asked to restructure their deals.

But cutting Wallace isn't an option for a team that wants to win next year. This franchise can't keep opening up big holes on a roster that has pockmarks across it.

Last offseason, most resources were spent simply trying to replace the offensive line lost in Bullygate. They're still trying to get a linebacker replacement for Dansby.

They're desperate for a top cornerback, too, when they had two who should be entering their prime right now. Smith is in Kansas City. And Davis? He plays for a trip to the Super Bowl Sunday.

He matured in his job. The question now is how much Philbin has.

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