Adam Schefter at ESPN reported this morning that according to a source, the Steelers are not going to use their franchise tag on restricted free agent Mike Wallace. The Steelers plan to place a first-round tender — and not the franchise tag — on restricted free agent Mike Wallace, a source close to the wide receiver told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.
Even with Hines Ward not coming back to the Steelers (still feels funny saying that), there’s no reason for the Steelers to franchise Mike Wallace. Yes Jerricho Cotchery is a free agent, Ward is gone, and all that’s left behind Wallace and Brown is a bevy of unproven talent. Still, using the first round tender on #17 is a no brainer but committing to nearly $10 million for one year shouldn’t be necessary.
A look at the free agent crop of receivers out there now should be enough of an indication that the Steelers can keep Wallace with just the tender of $2.7 million. As much as we all love Mike Wallace, and with good reason, there are a host of other targets out there that can command more money and are more accomplished right now than Wallace is. Names like Marques Colston, Reggie Wayne, Desean Jackson, Dwayne Bowe, Stevie Johnson, Wes Welker, Robert Meachem, Mario Manningham, and Vincent Jackson just to name a handful. All of these are established, proven talents in the league; which puts Wallace at a disadvantage. It’s not that he is a subpar receiver, but rather for all the good things he’s done in his career so far he’s still got things he can improve upon before he is a complete player.
Even if some top free agents like Welker for example get tagged by respective team, there is still a serious group of pass catchers on the market that will garner significant interest without having to give up a first round draft pick in addition to paying Wallace.
I should say that had this off season not have been one where so many players at his position are available, we might be having a very different conversation. With a free agent pool this deep, Wallace would be better off signing the 1 yr. tender offer from the Steelers and exploring the free agent market next year, should he choose to do so.
Obviously the better option for Pittsburgh if they can pull it off, is to get him signed long term before he hits the market.
Perhaps the Steelers are closer to a long term deal with Wallace than we might realize right now and there’s a realistic chance he’ll be signed long term before the March 13th deadline or shortly thereafter. You have to think that in their negotiations they are letting Wallace know their intentions for the short and long term if for no other reason than Kevin Colbert going on record at the combine as saying they will do everything they can to have Mike Wallace finish his career in Pittsburgh.
Let’s not forget here, the Steelers may very well decide to franchise Wallace yet, they still have nearly 2 weeks before they have to make that call (March 5th to place tender offer). Either way keeping Wallace around is a priority for Pittsburgh and when they set their mind to something they figure out a way to get it done more often than not.