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.