Over the past 3 seasons, Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace has risen to become one of the NFL’s premier deep threat receivers, averaging over 18 yards per reception over his first few seasons in the league.
Still, his numbers haven’t convinced a team to offer the receiver a contract. Wallace is a restricted free agent, and the deadline for teams to sign him is quickly approaching on Friday, April 20th. Should that date come and go with no outside offers, it seems likely that Mike Wallace will eventually sign his $2.742 million tender.
Wallace isn’t likely to go down without a fight however. Adam Schefter reported on Wednesday that Wallace has no plans of signing the tender, meaning that it is likely Wallace will miss much of the Steelers’ offseason programs. Don’t be mislead by a holdout however. Wallace will eventually sign the tender so he can accrue his 4th year in the league, allowing him to be an unrestricted free agent following 2012, but that even is a long ways off.
$2.742 million is not a bad paycheck at the end of the day. No, Wallace is not being compensated at a level that would indicate that he’s an elite deep threat receiver, which he is, but it’s still a huge chunk of change. It would go a long way in improving other teams’ opinions of him if he’d just sign the tender and play out 2012 as an underpaid receiver. Then, in 2013, he could go into the unrestricted free agent market with a good reputation and seek out a sizable contract that would reward him for his very unique talents.
Whether Wallace decides to be stubborn or not, his relationship with the Steelers may eventually hit the boiling point, and it seems unlikely that he’ll remain with the team beyond the 2012 campaign. The Steelers are fighting to stay under the NFL’s salary cap as it is, and that’s not considering the draft later this month. They simply don’t have the cap room to sign him now, and by restructuring contracts now, they jeopardize their future cap situation. Basically, the Steelers are in a corner, and there are people that they just can’t afford to keep.
There is still a small chance that another team could sign Wallace, but the move has a huge pricetag. To begin, that team would have to forfeit its highest original first round draft pick. On top of that, Wallace would be looking to be paid as a top 5 receiver. If he was an unrestricted free agent, teams may have been willing to float the enormous bill and pay him, but the added cost of a first round draft pick just seems like it’s too much. It’ll be interesting to see what direction Wallace moves in once the restricted free agent deadline passes on the 20th.