Who didn’t see this coming?
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace is refusing to sign his tender offer. That news broke a few days ago and I didn’t pay it much mind because it’s not totally unexpected. Once Wallace signs his tender, he can’t negotiate with any other team. I didn’t expect him to sign until the restricted free agency period ends on April 20th. However, after that date, I also expected Wallace to man up, respect his team and the rules of the CBA, and carry on like the professional he supposedly is.
Now comes word that Wallace may not sign his tender even after the RFA period ends. In fact, it is being reported he may sit out all of the Steelers off-season mini-camps until he gets a brand new long-term contract. Sorry, Mike, that’s not how things work. If nobody offers you a deal, you sign your tender, show up for practice, and honor your contract.
Word around town is negotiations between Wallace and the Steelers are not going well. The Steelers are trying to lock him in to a multi-year deal but evidently the rumors that he’s looking for Matrix money aren’t just a bargaining tactic. He truly believes he should be paid in the same league as Megatron and LarryFitz. Well, sorry, never in a million years do I see the Steelers giving him $10-12 million per year for multiple years. Ain’t gonna happen.
Everybody knows this isn’t going to happen which is why teams have recently contacted the Steelers about trading for Wallace. Why trade for him when they can simply sign him outright? Well, there may be teams willing to pay him that exorbitant amount. They’re just not willing to surrender a first round pick for the privilege to do so.
Wide receivers have been notorious pains in the ass in recent years. Vincent Jackson was a RFA last off-season, decided he didn’t like the Chargers tender offer, and sat out all of training camp. The Chargers suspended him which resulted in the NFLPA stepping in to try and arrange a trade. No trade was forthcoming so Jackson reluctantly returned although he couldn’t get out of town fast enough once he played out his year. Wes Welker also didn’t like his RFA tender and let it be known he might sit out the year, forcing the Dolphins to trade him to New England for the bargain basement price of a 2nd and 7th round pick.
Of course, the Santonio Holmes situation is also still fresh in teams’ minds. The Steelers gave him away for a 5th round pick because he was an impending free agent whom they had no intention of re-signing. Granted Holmes’ situation was light years different than Wallace’s. ‘Tone was a thug, a malcontent the team wanted rid of for character reasons more than anything. By all accounts Wallace is a perfectly good guy, perhaps a little arrogant, but nothing so bad the team should be willing to give him away.
In fact, the ball is totally in the Steelers’ court. Wallace needs four years of service before he becomes an unrestricted free agent so he’s not going to sit out the year. He can be a pain in the ass and a distraction, which the Steelers have always tried to avoid, but he can’t force them to do anything. After the season, they can still Franchise tag him so he can conceivably be here for two more years without getting his precious guaranteed multi-year deal unless he comes off his ridiculous salary demands. They certainly don’t have to trade him.
Although if Wallace is going to continue to be unreasonable, perhaps a trade will be in order. A team like the Rams could surely use a wideout of Wallace’s caliber but no way would they surrender the sixth overall pick for him. But would they surrender their second rounder? Rumors were New England was interested in Wallace and had they signed him the Steelers would’ve received the 31st overall pick. The Rams second rounder is 38th overall which is basically a wash. As I said, the Steelers don’t HAVE to do anything but I can’t see them dicking around with this guy for multiple off-seasons nor do I think they want to see him go without getting something in return.
Ordinarily I’d dismiss any notion of trading Wallace as idle off-season conjecture. But the recent signing of Jerricho Cotchery to a two year deal makes me wonder. With all three members of Young Money healthy, Cotch would be a fourth option. However, if Wallace were to go, Manny Sanders and Antonio Brown would be your nominal starters with the Cotch Rocket serving as the slot man. Make no mistake, I have no desire to lose Wallace but is he really the kind of game-changer the offense can’t do without?
I guess we’ll find out in the comings weeks if the Steelers think he is.
“Business will take care of itself, but Mike will report and be the guy that he’s always been in my mind, and that’s a guy that has a desire to be the best and a guy that’s willing to work daily to be the best”
The first thing I thought when I saw this Wallace BS yesterday was whether Tomlin had any crow left to fry up in his omelet today. He said this at the coaches meeting back in March, and it gave me a sense of relief knowing MT is a pretty good judge of character, and doesn’t take sh*t from the players. Wow was he wrong. I am a big believer in always negotiating the best offer and using what is at your disposal to do so, but pulling a Chris Johnson and skipping OTAs and camp is petty at best. The Titans may have put up with that, but Wallace is going to have to buy a ticket to get into Heinz Field if he keeps this up.
It might go against logic when referencing putting the best team on the field, but just MENTIONING he’s going to sit at home, pout and not be part of the team for camp is enough for me to want his ass out of Pittsburgh tomorrow. Fortunately for me, Tomlin and the Rooney’s track record shows a similar disinterest in unprofessional thumb-sucking.
Oh – and did I mention CJ ran for about four yards last season after his months long pout show and contract chase? Yeah that was worth all the strife Bud Adams, good job Capt’n.
I didn’t hear that quote from MT but there’s your typical Tomlinism. I wouldn’t worry much about what he says since I have a feeling his input into personnel is minimal anyway.
Good point about CJ. I have a feeling that’s what we’re in for with Wallace, unfortunately. Really, there is not good outcome thought. If he stinks the first month of the season, the fans will be ready to run him outta town on a rail. If he’s awesome, everybody will be on the Steelers for not tying him up sooner.
It’s a total lose-lose situation.
Wallace does not have a contract with the Steelers so there is nothing for him to honor. His contract ended in March. The Steelers offered him a one year contract for $2 million and he has until mid-June to sign it before the Steelers can reduce it to about $500K, as per the CBA rules. It really isn’t fair to compare him to Vincent Jackson because Jackson had a mandatory two game suspension he had to serve before he could even begin playing. That’s one of the reasons that no one traded for him. Even then Jackson only signed his tender around week 8 so that he could accrue the minimum amount of games to get credit for a full season and then be a unrestricted free agent. As it is I think Wallace will sit out everything until the last minute, sign his tender in June, play like it’s a contract year (which it will be) and then be either tagged next year for a huge raise or test the open market.
Actually, as I pointed out there is something for him to honor and it’s called the CBA. He may not have an official contract but the rules about restricted free agency and tender offers are clear. If April 20th comes and he doesn’t sign his tender, he’s basically saying, “I know what the rules are but they don’t apply to me” and that’s why I say he’s being a pain in the ass.
I mean, you predict he’ll sign “at the last minute.” To what end? If he’s going to sign his tender on June 20th, why not sign it on April 20th? It’s not like signing a one year deal is going to make him any less of a priority.