Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace and cornerback Keenan Lewis attended the same high school and have been best friends their entire lives. In a report by Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette after the 2009 NFL Draft, he chronicles the duos path from high school to both being drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the third round.
Although the Steelers did not make the playoffs in 2009, Mike Wallace made an immediate impact as a rookie compiling 39 receptions for 756 yards and six touchdowns. As the Steelers’ third receiver, Wallace very quickly became known around the league for his blazing speed and he averaged 19.4 yards per reception his rookie year. In his second season Mike Wallace became a starter for the Steelers and he produced his best year as a pro to this point in his career with 60 receptions for 1257 yards and 10 touchdowns while averaging 21 yards per catch.
Last season, Wallace paired with Antonio Brown to give the Steelers one of the best receiving corps in the league and he again had a great season with 72 catches for 1193 yards and eight touchdowns. After the 2011 season ended Wallace became a restricted free agent and there was a huge debate on whether or not the Steelers should give him a big contract. The Steelers decided to not give Wallace the type of contract he was asking for and the disgruntled receiver held out of training camp.
Keenan Lewis did not have the start to his career that Wallace did and he played in only 13 games in his first two seasons combined. In his third season Lewis was still technically the third cornerback behind Ike Taylor and William Gay however, he got a lot of good snaps and his first interception of his career. With Gay leaving in free agency this past offseason, Keenan Lewis would get his shot to start opposite Ike Taylor and he even predicted a Pro Bowl season for himself in this article by Brian McIntrye of NFL.com. It was a pretty surprising statement from Lewis considering there were a lot of fans who thought there was a chance he could be beaten out by Cortez Allen for the starting spot.
Lewis earned the job and if he could just catch a few of the interceptions that have hit his hands I think he would definitely be in the Pro Bowl this season. Now with Ike Taylor being injured and possibly missing the last few weeks of the regular season, Lewis has the opportunity to take the opposing teams’ best receiver and prove he is a number one corner.
Mike Wallace is on the other side having a down year by his standards and has had a problem with drops this season. His only 100 yard game was in week 3 in the loss to the Oakland Raiders and his last touchdown came versus the Kansas City Chiefs. That being said Wallace isn’t have a bad season and still leads the team in receiving yards while being second in receptions and touchdowns.
Both Lewis and Wallace will be unrestricted free agents this offseason and they are on list of huge decisions the Steelers will have to make. The Steelers are projected to be over the cap again this offseason and both Lewis and Wallace are going to want to get paid. We all know the type of money that Wallace is going to demand already and hopefully Lewis doesn’t ask for something inordinate as well.
No matter how much heat Mike Wallace is getting this season I still think he is a great asset to have on offense and I hope he brings his price way down to stay with the team. Lewis could ask for big money this offseason and with the Steelers cap issues they could be forced to let him as well. Realistically I think the Steelers are going to be able to re-sign Lewis however, nothing is certain and there is a long way to go before the end of the season.
The question is whether or not these two long time best friends will continue being teammates, or will they be lining up across from each other in 2013?