- Jamison Hensley, ESPN Staff Writer
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In a quote that will surprise no one, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger told a Dolphins website (thefinsiders.com) that the Pittsburgh Steelers are going to miss wide receiver Mike Wallace, who signed with the Miami Dolphins in free agency.
I don't think anyone is going to dispute the Steelers are going to miss Wallace. To what extent the Steelers are going to miss him is the real issue.
Wallace led the Steelers in receiving the past three seasons. There is no one who is going to stretch the field like Wallace, who has more 40-yard receptions since 2009 than Wallace (27).
But the Steelers would have missed Wallace more in Bruce Arian's offense, which emphasized the deep passing game, than in Todd Haley's passing attack. The Steelers should still be productive with Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders, both of whom can gain yards after the catch.
In fact, Brown and Sanders each had more 20-yard receptions than Wallace last season. Brown (11) and Sanders (10) combined for 21 catches over 21 yards last season while Wallace had nine.
Some may say Brown and Sanders are more versatile receivers because they can run different routes than Wallace, who has been jokingly referred as a "one-trick pony." Roethlisberger disagreed with that label.
“Mike is way more,” Roethlisberger said. “It’s to Mike’s credit. Mike is really focused on becoming a better receiver. So he’s focused on his route running. He’s focused on running out-routes, and curl-routes, and in-routes and doing all the little things that’s required to become a great wide receiver."
Roethlisberger added, “That’s why he, to me, is one of the best in the league, because he not only has that speed -- he can run by anybody -- but he can run routes and he can get open. That’s why we’re going to miss him, and the Dolphins are lucky to have him.”
There's still a chance that Wallace won't be the only receiver to leave. If the New England Patriots sign Sanders to an offer sheet before the April 19 deadline, Roethlisberger and the Steelers are going to miss Wallace a lot more.