It is becoming more and more obvious to me that as the hours tick down on Mike Wallace’s chances to sign a deal with any other team in the National Football League that the Steelers are in a seemingly perfect position. If Wallace goes unsigned as most of us expect through today, he is left with essentially two options; sign his $2.7 million tender and play for that amount this year or he can choose to sit out. Of course the problem with that is that he needs those six games in order to accrue a year towards his desire to be an unrestricted free agent in 2013.
With all that said, I honestly believe this has less to do with Mike Wallace and more to do with Antonio Brown. With Brown awaiting free agency next year, the question has been asked a million times throughout the Steeler Nation, do you pay Wallace or do you pay Brown? Our salary cap situation is not going to let us keep both unless something very drastic happens and I don’t see it occurring.
If I’m sitting in the Steelers’ front office and I’m looking at both ‘on-field and off-field’ results from these men it really is a no-brainer in terms of who you keep long-term. I’ve been in the Antonio Brown camp since he was tearing up my Western Michigan Broncos backs in his days as a Central Michigan Chippewa. I really believed this kid could play at the next level and he has. I also recall seeing Wallace at his rookie training camp and thinking, ”we have to get this kid on the field” after seeing his speed and athleticism on display in Latrobe.
The argument has been had a thousand times over whether Brown’s success was due to Wallace’s presence on the field or not. I’m not going to get in the argument because I certainly believe it was a factor. With teams rolling coverages and doubling up on Wallace, that left considerable room for Brown to flourish and he did. Ask yourself this question however, if Brown had been the number one and Wallace the number two, would Wallace have been as successful as Brown was last season? My answer is no.
While Brown still has much to learn and much to work on, he is a better route runner and he catches the ball better as well. As fast as Wallace is, I see Brown as just as threatening in the open field as a runner. Of course Brown also offers the ability to return both punts and kickoffs whereas Wallace really does not.
Let’s throw in the ‘off-field’ part of this decision-making as well. As much as I hate to admit it, social media is here and it must be taken seriously. Both of these guys are on Twitter and quite frankly, couldn’t be more different. Brown is consistently upbeat and positive in almost everything he tweets while Wallace quite frankly tweets comments that I guess I’m told old to understand. His attitude wasn’t exactly ‘fan-friendly’ when reports broke about his alleged request of Larry Fitzgerald-money in the $120 million range when San Francisco inquired about his services.
I don’t dislike Mike Wallace, in fact I really like what he brings to the table as a player and I completely understand that NFL careers are short and guys that get the opportunity want to be paid as much as they can. I really do get that, but I’m still a fan that likes my teams’ players to be more than one-dimensional, especially at such a high price. There is every possibility that after another huge year from Brown means his attitude could become just like Wallace’s has been in 2012 but I don’t see it happening.
Mike Wallace needs to decide what is best for him and I respect that and that’s why I hope he signs his tender and gets into those training sessions and OTA’s where he can learn Todd Haley’s new offense. For every day that goes by however without him being in Pittsburgh or ‘holding out,’ the decision to stick with Antonio Brown becomes that much easier for the Steelers.