I’m going to go against the grain here and say that I wouldn’t be too surprised if Mike Wallace was let go this off-season. That is not to say that’s what I want (haven’t made up my mind on that one yet), but just that I wouldn’t be too surprised. Here’s why.
Mike Wallace was largely a non-factor throughout the second half of last season. Everyone in the NFL knows where Wallace is going. He’s going deep, and even though there are a handful of #1 CBs who can’t cover him even when they know that’s what’s going down it doesn’t matter, because Big Ben can’t hit him in stride anyway. Ben has showed that he can sling the ball around the field, but when it comes to the long ball, accuracy is not one of his strong suits. He can over-throw Wallace (many joked that it’s not possible, it is.) he can under-throw Wallace, but it doen’t look like he can really strike when the iron is hot with Mikey.
Is that Wallace’s fault? No. There are benefits to having Wallace back even though it’s not likely, in my opinion, he’ll have a big year like the first half of last year again. He stretches the field. Sometimes he even has to be double covered which puts guys like Antonio Brown in one on one situations, and we all know what AB can do with his feet after catching the ball (something Wallace lacks, might I add).
SO if Wallace isn’t brought back that leaves us with the two young studs Emmanual Sanders and Antonio Brown, and leaves us with some combination of Cotchery, Ward, and perhaps a draft pick or a practice squader like Tyler Grisham.
Now let’s talk about Ward vs. Cotchery. Ward is old and slow, but reliable and is a great mentor for the younger WRs. Cotchery is a stud. Has a lot left in the tank, and when everyone else was covered, Cotchery was finding ways to get open and catch TDs from Big Ben last season. With some more oportunities, I think Cotchery could be a great signing for the Steelers. Ben likes him, and he’s a beast. Problem is, you all think the Steelers should be loyal to Ward because he’s been loyal to them. Not sure I agree there. Ward wants to finish his career in Pittsburgh, but he may have to take the league minimum to do so. The Steelers have never been a nostalgic team in the way they do Front Office business. What’s most important now is what gives them the best chance to win now and in the future. Is a Hines Ward signing/restructuring really the answer to that problem? I’m just not sure.
Word is that Cotchery wants a 4 or 5 year deal. Where it is uncharacteristic for the Steelers to sign vets to longer deals, it may not be so far fetched, especially if they let either Hines or Wallace go. I know you’re sitting there thinking it’s just impossible for the Steelers to make such a move, but I assure you, nothing is impossible. Tomlin has been calling Wallace a “one trick pony” for years. The news people always laugh like “aww that’s so cute Tomlin is razzing Wallace” but I think Tomlin is serious. I think he really does think Wallace is a one trick pony, and I think he’s right. Antonio Brown is the total package. He can run slants, deep routs, screens…and he is always good for some YAC. Wallace has trouble using his feet to get open or to break tackles except when he is in the open field. His perceived value is still very great though, considering the bottom line numbers Wallace had last season. That means either the Steelers will have to shell out some big money, Franchise Tag him, or they get an onslaught of players or draft picks in a trade. Certainly a thought worth entertaining.
Emmanual Sanders makes me a little nervous since he has spent so much time on the sidelines watching the games due to injury. I hope that he can stay healthy this year and prove that he belongs in the #3 at the least. I know at the beginning of the year we all thought Sanders would be the #2, but I think Antonio has claimed that spot (maybe even #1…) The Steelers have also signed Derrick Williams, a WR from the Lions who is a Penn State album. Not a lot of info on him out there, so we’ll see.
Needless to say, I’m interested and ready to find out what decisions the Steelers make. For me, the ideal WR core would be: #1 Antonio Brown, #2 Mike Wallace, #3 Emanual Sanders, #4 Jerricho Cotchery #5 Hines Ward. That’s clearly not possible and will not be the case, but I’ve numbered them in order of their value at this time, so you can deduct where I’d like it to be if one or two have to be cut out.
Over and out.
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