Mike Wallace was a restricted free agent this offseason, and did not get the long term deal he was looking for. No team was willing to give up a first round pick to sign Wallace to a long term deal. The issue was likely his contract demands, where there were reports that he was wanting Larry Fitzgerald money. Prior to that, I had looked at his outlook compared to draft picks, setting a price where a team might consider him. It’s not Larry Fitzgerald money, and certainly not even a lot more than what Pierre Garcon got if a team also has to give up draft pick compensation.
Ed Bouchette, the long time Pittsburgh beat writer, said today that the Steelers should consider trading Wallace in a sign and trade type deal where they let him negotiate with another team, then trade him once he signs the tender. The concern is how Wallace will perform this year and whether he lets his contract concerns carry over to the season. Of course, the likelihood of a team wanting him is also entirely dependent on the contract demands.
The Steelers delivered a symbolic middle finger to Wallace yesterday, as they signed his fellow wide receiver, Antonio Brown, to a contract extension the year before he was going to be in the same position as Wallace, as a restricted free agent. Brown got 42.5 million for 5 years, which is good money (especially two years before full free agency) and less than Pierre Garcon. Wallace will likely command more than 10 million, but only on the open market, and not restricted by a trade.
Can Wallace suck it up? I would keep him. Let him play, for a good price, in 2012. If he sulks, he hurts his own signing value the next year anyway, so you better just hope his agent has a good talk with Wallace before the season.
Bouchette did raise the point of how Wallace finished last year. Wallace had 800 yards in the first half to 393 in the second half of the season, while Brown reversed that with 431 yards to 677. I might just have to look at those splits and whether other receivers who showed similar splits diverged the next season.
[photo via US Presswire]