The Pittsburgh Steelers reached a five-year, $42.5 million deal with one of their top wide receivers, however, it was not the name that everyone had anticipated hearing. Instead, the Steelers extended Antonio Brown who was set to become a restricted free agent next season over Mike Wallace who is currently unsigned with a one-year tender on the table.
Wallace has been absent from Steelers camp and offseason workouts while Brown has been working hard to improve on his game. That hard work was rewarded in typical Steelers fashion. The franchise always takes care of those who work hard for the franchise.
With the extension, Brown’s cap number for 2012 goes up from just over $560,000 to $2.24 million. So for those wondering, yes, the Steelers still have room to sign Wallace.
But will they?
Wallace has taken a hard stance and stayed away from camp. The team was close to reaching a long-term deal with Wallace prior to camp but the talks were off as soon as Wallace didn’t show. He failed to take advantage of an opportunity to get the money he wanted. Big mistake on his part.
Since Wallace didn’t want to show up and negotiate, the Steelers gave Brown the money.
It was a big message to Wallace. A message that was echoed by head coach Mike Tomlin earlier in the week when he publicly told Mike Wallace this is bigger than him.
The relationship between Wallace an the Steelers was already starting to fall apart and the recent news can not make Wallace happy.
While Brown now has a new deal and will not become a restricted free agent next offseason, what does that mean for Mike Wallace?
It means that if he doesn’t get to camp soon, he will either become increasingly frustrated with the Steelers or he will be traded.
For the Steelers, the best thing to do would be to force Wallace to make a move. See if he is willing to miss regular season games and allow Brown to work at the “X” receiver in Todd Haley’s new offense, which is the position Wallace would have occupied. If Wallace is dead set on sitting out for a new contract, the Steelers would let him do so until next season when he becomes an unrestricted free agent. Otherwise, he can sign his one-year tender and play.
Then when next season rolls around the Steelers can re-open contract talks with Wallace and place the franchise tag on him. That would secure that one of the league’s biggest deep threat would be on their roster for one more season.
Finally, the team has one last option — trade the disgruntled wideout.
If the Steelers could find a potential suitor for Wallace, they could get significant compensation in return for his services without ever having to pay him the big money. It would be a win-win for Pittsbugh.
The team doesn’t need Wallace. They locked up their best all-around wide receiver in Antonio Brown for the next five years and they have an emerging star in Emmanuel Sanders. If Wallace wants to play hard ball and hold out for his money that will not come if he stays away, so be it. If he has a change of heart and wants to stay with what could be one of the best receiving corps in the NFL, he will report to camp.
Only Wallace knows what his next move will be but the Steelers don’t seem too worried. They will not change the Steeler way for one player and for that you have to respect the franchise.