PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 24: Wide receiver Mike Wallace #17 of the Pittsburgh Steelers is tackled by linebackers Brady Poppinga #51 and Chris Chamberlain #57 of the St. Louis Rams during the game at Heinz Field on December 24, 2011 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Karl Walter/Getty Images)
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace informed the team that he will not sign his restricted free agent tender and will not report to offseason workouts that start next week. Word comes now that several teams have an interest in swinging a deal for the disgruntled Steelers wide receiver, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
Interesting [strokes imaginary beard], very interesting.
As the article notes, Wallace's agent made it clear that his client would receiver plenty of interest with just a first-round tender attached. He did not. No team needed a receiver badly enough to give up a first-round pick AND give Wallace the kind of deal he is seeking.
Wallace wants Larry Fitzgerald money. For those of you curious about the specifics, Fitzgerald signed an eight-year, $128.5 million contract last August, with $50 million guaranteed. As I wrote back in March, Mike Wallace is good, but he isn't that good.
Now, the Steelers might be more open to a deal, similar to what they did with Santonio Holmes prior to the 2010 NFL Draft.
Pittsburgh is not going to give Wallace the kind of deal he wants, most likely. Wallace, for his part, is not going to give up on a shot a unrestricted free agency in 2013 by sitting out this year over an RFA dispute. If he doesn't sign by June 15, his RFA compensation drops. One way or another, Wallace will play this season.
The question for the Steelers is whether or not they should try to squeeze some value out of Wallace now by trading him.
It makes for an interesting situation. Pittsburgh has Antonio Brown on the roster. They are uncomfortably close to cap this year, and likely to be that way next year, and need to get much younger all over their roster. Adding a draft pick or two would go along way toward helping alleviate both those problems. Or, would they want to hang onto Wallace and give themselves a better shot at competing this season. Oh, they also have a new offensive coordinator this season.
The tricky part for suitors is that they would have to give Wallace big contract, something along the lines of $10 million per year.
So think about this for a team like the Rams, who could really benefit from adding a receiver like Wallace. Is he worth a second- or third-round pick AND a contract like that? It would certainly require some movement of existing salaries to make it work. Suppose the Rams drafted Trent Richardson in the first round; they could then free up $7 million by releasing Steven Jackson. The combinations are really endless, and we're firmly in the world of the hypothetical, a place I'm not inherently comfortable being.
We're close to another wave of player movement, as teams make draft deals and part ways with redundancies incurred by their draft picks. My gut would say that Wallace stays put in Pittsburgh this season, but the situation is worth keeping an eye on, given the Rams' needs and flexibility in the draft.