The media frenzy surrounding Mike Wallace is again at the forefront of the offseason news for the Steelers. Even with the signing of Jerricho Cotchery today, and Leonard Pope yesterday, the focus has quickly shifted back to #17. There’s been more Mike Wallace talk this offseason than you can shake a stick at. While I would imagine that isn’t his primary intent, it’s an indirect result of the media circus surrounding him and his contract status going forward. Don’t get me wrong, we here at Steeler Addicts will always report the latest news, notes, and happenings with the Steelers no matter who is involved but the Mike Wallace saga is out control. The latest according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter this afternoon, Wallace has no intention of signing the 1 year tender offer the Steelers placed on him.
We don’t know the source that Schefter learned this information from, was it someone close to Wallace, someone in the organization, Mike himself? Perhaps this is just an educated assumption on Schefters part. These types of things can and have completely been blown out of proportion in the past but Schefter is normally a reliable source so we’ll see where this goes. To date, Wallace hasn’t commented on this information.
The first part of Wallace seemingly trying to force the hand of the Steelers happened earlier this offseason during a radio interview on SiriusXM NFL radio. He talked about wanting to stay in Pittsburgh but also making it clear that he will talk with other teams and do what’s best for him in this NFL business. No one can blame Wallace for making those statements, everybody wants the security of a long term deal. However that interview ignited the fire that’s been burning in the keyboards of journalists and bloggers all of types, and it hasn’t died down yet.
Since then, the media has taken the Wallace situation and linked him to just about any team needing a wide receiver leading up to the draft. The Patriots, Bengals, Ravens, Browns, Broncos, and 49ers just to name a few were all rumored to have interest in Wallace. Being a restricted free agent, the chances of him going elsewhere were remote at best right from the get go. The only significant interest, at least rumored to be significant, was the 49ers who inquired about Wallace at the start of free agency but then backed off when they found out he was seeking money a long the lines of Larry Fitzgerald. Couple that with the first round pick they would have had to give up and that’s an asking price too steep for anyone. From Pro Football Talk: That’s the word out of San Francisco, where the 49ers had interest in signing Wallace until they found out how much money he wanted. Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee reports that Wallace wants a contract that surpasses the eight-year, $120 million deal that Larry Fitzgerald signed with the Cardinals.
Fast forward to today and now it seems that Wallace, again assuming this report is true, is prepared to sit out the entire offseason until a long term deal is done. If he doesn’t sign the tender he cannot participate in any offseason workouts with the team. Let’s be frank, for as good as Wallace is, he’s no Larry Fitzgerald just yet. That’s not to say that he can’t be, he’s got the talent and obviously the speed but there is always room for improvement.
Reading some of Wallace’s tweets, he’s been somewhat standoffish with the fans and appears, at least from my perspective, to have a serious chip on his shoulder. Personally I like a guy who has a bit of an attitude, there’s nothing wrong with that, but this whole situation just stinks of arrogance and the Steelers are not about those types of players in their locker room.
Kevin Colbert has said, as has Art Rooney II, that they want to keep Wallace in Pittsburgh long term and would like to get a deal done. I’m all for that and there’s still plenty of time to work out a deal for him. The Steelers are known for signing players to tenders or franchise tags and then inking those players to a long term deal during training camp or preseason. Anything can still happen but there’s no way the Steelers would, even if they could afford to do so, give him $100 million this early in his career.
I sincerely hope things work out between the team and Wallace but he’s got realize at some point that nobody is bigger than the team; not Ben Roethlisberger and certainly not Mike Wallace. If the Steelers were considering trading or releasing Big Ben after the Georgia scandal, they could certainly part ways with Wallace if it comes to that.
Stay tuned, I’m sure something else Wallace wise will make the headlines again soon…