I know – the cap room ultimately prevented the Steelers from doing any franchise tagging of speedy wide out, Mike Wallace. They certainly dropped a lot of cap weight by getting rid of guys like Ward, Smith, Farrior and Kemoeatu. But, they also had an opportunity to dump guys like Hampton, Foote, Mendenhall, and Suisham. Knocking out one or two of those guys would have made room to franchise Wallace – due somewhere in the ballpark of $9 million if tagged. Instead, the Steelers are going to risk tendering Wallace – either shell out the dough and match the offer from another team or get a first round pick out of the loss of Wallace. But is this a mistake?
I think think the Steelers are smart in this move. They keep some key veterans like Hampton and Foote – though both are arguably highly expendable – without having to lose talent and money. If they loose Wallace to another team, they get a first rounder. Now, the teams flirting with interest as of now are rumored to be the ‘Niners and Pats – two of the lowest picks on the board. But it’s still a first rounder. If they can sign Cotchery, they would have Brown, Sanders and Cotchery as the #1-3 receivers. Not bad for the depth chart. They’ve tendered some other wide outs who could fall to the practice team, but who could also act as a cheap #4 and 5 wide out. The Steelers would have two first round picks – something that’s never been available to them. They could snag Hightower and maybe even Glenn if the two were still available. Can someone say best draft ever? So worst case scenario you have a solid #1-3 receiving core, some veterans on defense sticking around and two highly touted first rounders. Not a bad ‘trade’ for losing a really fast guy.
If the Steelers are able to match an offer and retain Wallace, they still have the fastest man on the field and a big playmaker. They’ve made their receiving core one of the most dangerous in the NFL and give Big Ben a ton of options to throw to (especially if you include Heath Miller into that group of options). They still get a solid #1 draft pick and still fill a bit hole in over at defense by selecting Hightower. Another win for the Steelers in the offseason.
So I see it as a win/win type of situation. But, there are the skeptics out there. Mike Wallace will go to a rival team like the Pats and then we are screwed. The Steelers will loose too much speed on the field and defenses will be able to stuff the box and kill the running game. Big Ben will lose his deep threat and get blitzed like crazy against a still weak offensive line….. All possible my friends.
So tell me, which is it? I leave it in your hands, Nation.