With the shakeup of the offensive line this week and the OTA’s starting next week, Steeler Nation is stoked with anticipation to get a peak at what this new Todd Haley offense is going to look like. But one question still remains, where will Mike Wallace fit into all this? Wallace has yet to sign his 1 year tender after lasting through the entire free agency period and not getting picked up by another team. Everyone from Rooney to Colbert and possibly the guy that washes the game jerseys for the Steelers has said that it is a priority to sign Wallace to a long term deal. That hasn’t happened either. With OTA’s starting on Tuesday, Wallace will most likely not show as he has stated he won’t sign his tender until he “absolutely has to.” Will this Wallace drama cover the entire upcoming offseason activities or is it no big deal?
Wallace is due his first round tender of about $2.7 million if he signs and plays. If the tender is not signed by June 15th, the Steelers have the option to replace that $2.7 million offer with a lower offer of just under $600,000. Wallace made just under $500,000 last year in the final year of his rookie contract. The Steelers have come out and said that they don’t plan to reduce the offer if Wallace has not signed and are still intending on trying to lock Wallace down with a long term deal. The rumors of Wallace’s lofty demands while visiting San Francisco during free agency have never been substantiated but the fact that Wallace still hasn’t signed speaks to the mindset that he is looking for a much bigger payday than the $2.7 million.
The potential with the Steelers offense this season is extremely high. We were all stoked about Ben’s weapons in the receiving corps before the start of last season and now we have an offensive line that has the potential to offer pass and run protection the likes of which we haven’t seen in years. That makes the weapons at offense even more dangerous. With a new lingo to learn and a new playbook to digest, this season’s OTA’s and other offseason activities are more important than ever so it would be disappointing if Wallace loses valuable preparation time over a contract dispute.
Money will always be a big disconnect between the players and fans. Personally, I don’t hold it against players trying to get the most money they can, that’s what the business they are in allows them to do so it’s pointless to hold it against them. We’d like to think that all Steeler players live and die with the Black & Gold like we do but sometimes that just isn’t the case. If I could negotiate my raises instead of just hoping for the standard 3%, I’d be trying to get myself a big payday as well. Bottom line is that it’s in Wallace’s best interest if he really wants that payday to sign the tender and then play his ass off this season. He’ll be one of the most highly coveted unrestricted free agents next year that way. The Steelers’ best bet is to lock him down to a long term deal and not have to worry about losing him in free agency.
So most likely we won’t be seeing Wallace report to OTA’s on Tuesday with the rest of the offense. Maybe there will be a deal in the works by then, maybe a deal will be done once the last 2 draft picks are signed, it’s all possible. I don’t think the offense will suffer too greatly from Wallace’s absence from OTA’s, but Wallace’s performance might suffer if he plans to hold out the entire offseason. The $2.7 million is on the table dude, sign it and turn out a season that no one will even blink before giving you gobs and gobs of money. Maybe Wallace should take a page out of LaMarr Woodley’s playbook as far as being patient with contract issues and letting what you’ve earned come to you in good time. In Colbert we trust. Go Steelers!
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