Last week, I wrote about a bunch of NFL players who were unhappy about being Franchised and threatening to not sign their offer sheets. Well, this was a whole bunch of ado about nothing as 18 of the 21 Franchisees either accepted their tender or inked a new deal. I should’ve realized this when I read the story on ProFootballTalk. PFT is a sports website and just like any other sports website, they take minor stories and blow them all out of proportion in order to generate precious page views.
By the way, have you seen pictures of the hot babe who was one propositioned by a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers?
Anyway, there was not the great labor unrest PFT hinted at in their vaguely worded article(s). Most of the major names signed new deals, including Matt Forte and Drew Brees. While Brees signed what is arguably the most lucrative contract in history, of more direct concern to us is that the Baltimore Ravens reached a deal with Ray Rice. Noted Stiller Killer and Bert Flacco’s favorite target signed a new 5 year deal worth $40 million with $24 million guaranteed. And that’s the important part, the guaranteed money, because as we’ve seen time and time again, you can sign for $300 million but all you ever really make is your guarantee before it’s time to renegotiate.
Mike Wallace isn’t the Steelers’ Franchise player (despite what Wikipedia erroneously claims) so his case isn’t exactly the same as Rice’s. For one, the cost is significantly less as a Franchised tagged WR would count $9 million against the cap while as a Restricted Free Agent, the Steelers only had to offer Wallace $3.5 million. Teams are often eager to negotiate longer deals with Franchise tagged players as a way to lessen the per year cap hit they have to absorb. In Rice’s case, the contract is heavily front-loaded to where the Ratbirds will pay him $17 million this season (most of that as a signing bonus) and only be on the hook for $15 million over the final three years of the deal. This is interesting because going into Monday, the Ravens were $660,000 under the cap.
I repeat, a team $660,000 under the cap agreed to pay a guy $17 million next season. So who says Omar Khan is a friggin’ genius?
The point to be taken here is the Steelers, currently $3.7 under the cap, can sign Mike Wallace any time and to pretty much any amount they want. I see other sites saying stuff like, “The Steelers can’t sign big money deals because they’re right up against the cap” or “The Steelers can’t give MW the moon because they have to worry about re-signing Antonio Brown and Manny Sanders next season.” Clearly, that’s nonsense. There are ways around the cap and smart teams, which the Steelers have shown themselves to be, know how to play those angles.
No, the only reason Wallace has not inked a multi-year contract is because he wants too much. That’s the ONLY explanation at this point. When word initially surfaced that Wallace was looking for Larry Fitzgerald money ($10-12 million/per), many thought it was a negotiating ploy where he’d eventually come down a bit, the Steelers would come up a bit and the two sides would meet in the middle. Well, it would seem it wasn’t a negotiating tactic after all. If the Ravens can pay Ray Rice $25 million over the next two seasons, the Steelers can pay Wallace the same.
Evidently, they simply don’t want to.