I cannot believe I’m going here again but I will. This is yet another Mike Wallace piece that I feel more and more inclined to get out to the masses so as to halt anyone jumping from one of the bridges in Pittsburgh.
With Official Team Activities, or OTAs beginning today for the Steelers, the most commonly used words in the Yinzer language the last 24 hours has been ‘Mike Wallace.’ What?!!? Mike Wallace isn’t attending the OTAs? Cue this scene from ‘Airplane the Movie.’ Let’s all relax a bit here folks. Would I like him to be there learning the new Todd Haley offense? Hell yes I would, but it is just May so let’s not get hysterical.
Mike Wallace and his agent Bus Cook are playing the system and if they think the Steelers front office and the Rooney Family in general have not been to this rodeo before they are sadly mistaken.
The Steelers have offered Wallace, a restricted free agent, a $2.7 million tender which he must sign in order to participate in any team activities. While it was reported earlier this year that Wallace was looking for ‘Larry Fitzgerald-type’ money when the San Francisco 49ers inquired about him, that has never really been confirmed by Cook or Wallace. That type of money is in the $120 million range by the way which is a number few, if anyone, thinks Wallace is worth.
If Wallace truly feels he is worth that amount of money three seasons into his National Football League career then he has most certainly played his last game in Pittsburgh because there is no way he is going to get that from the Steelers. He should also come to realize that Steelers’ fans rarely give their seal of approval to contracts that large. There’s something to be said for ‘knowing you’re environment.’
The bigger immediate issue for Wallace is how to play his cards which are starting look worse and worse. If Wallace wants his big pay day then he will have to become an unrestricted free agent meaning he must be on the active roster for six games this season. He also faces the prospect of having the tender offer slashed significantly on June 15th when the Steelers can reduce his potential 2012 salary to a meager $577,000.
General Manager Kevin Colbert has said the team will not do that any time soon, but it remains a possibility.
Wallace really is in a difficult situation because the man opposite him is playing for a rather sizeable contract himself. Antonio Brown will be in the same position next year and all indications are he is much more willing to prove his worth on the field. The longer Wallace potentially sits out, one of two things will happen.
If Brown struggles in the early season then this could help Wallace’s cause and raise his price tag because it would be clear his absence was affecting Brown. On the other hand, if Brown excels, Wallace’s demands will not only have to drop in the eyes of the Steelers but to the other 31 teams as well.
My point is this; let’s not get cuckoo’s nest-crazy just yet over Mike Wallace being absent from OTAs. If this drags into training camp, then we can start worrying. Honestly though, I believe Antonio Brown will be just fine and as much as I’d like Wallace to be in the black ‘n gold I can also do without the selfishness he is exhibiting.