Missing The Boat: Steelers Mike Wallace Screwing Himself

If you look hard enough, you can see Mike Wallace standing on a dock down by the Allegheny River watching his boat full of cash float away without him…

The Steelers’ organized team activities, better known as OTA’s, begin on Tuesday.  The OTA’s are fairly important for newcomers to the team, whether it be newly acquired free agents or freshly drafted rookies.  These particular OTA’s are important because of the team’s new offensive coordinator Todd ‘Scruffy’ Haley.  This will be the first chance for the players to get acquainted with the new offensive schemes.  I hear Rossetta Stone Inc. employees will be on hand to give out free trials of their Haley Offense Translations software (har har har, right Ben?)

'Have you seen how much I'm screwing myself?!' Courtesy sbnation.com

A few players will be missing from those OTA’s – some injured, some not, but none more notable than Mike Wallace.  Wallace, because of his refusal to sign his tender and the Steelers equal refusal to pay him the money he doesn’t really quite deserve yet, cannot attend the OTA’s.  The way this situation is playing out, chances are Wallace won’t be attending anything until at least camp or after.  And that doesn’t bode well for Wallace’s immediate and long term future.

If Ben is anywhere near correct about the complexity of Todd Haley’s offense, then the offense as a whole will need to rely heavily on these OTA’s to become familiar with the playbook.  In my opinion (and I’m guessing many will agree) training camp is NOT meant for the team to learn the offense (or defense).  The books have been handed out long ago, and the players should have studied up on every bit of each play.  Camp is meant to gauge athlete vs. athlete and how each ‘fits’ into the overall team.  Camp is about refining and finding the nuances within each play.  Familiarity becomes mastery.  Quarterbacks improve timing with their receivers.  Audibles are crafted.  Each player is ‘on the same page’ as it were, so that communication does not breakdown out on the field.  Sometimes camp isn’t long enough for all of that to happen.  How many times have we seen in Weeks 1-3 routes break down, snap counts jumped, and even the wrong route be run by any given receiver?  Too often than I would like to admit.  But it’s all part of the growing pains of a team becoming a new cohesive group… and that’s when it’s an already implemented offense (or defense).  Just think of the added complexity of having to practically start over with a new OC.

This is where I see the beginning of the end for Money Bags Wallace.  The longer he waits, the less time he has to learn.  Should he wait until the end of camp to sign, it will take weeks for him to learn everything.  He may be physically ready to play, but far from mentally ready.  The Steelers will use him in a limited fashion – basically a one trick pony again until he can get better at the other routes.  Sound familiar?  A huge step backwards my Mike Wallace fans.  Should he wait until the last moment to sign a contract with the team (November), that will spell even bigger disaster.  No stats = no $$ (not to mention numerous teams who will run away from a hold out like Wallace faster than the advances of their first cousin).

The less time Wallace has on the field, the less opportunity he will have to catch a pass attempt.  The less opportunity he will have to make a big splash play.  The less opportunity to turn heads and impress teams with big cap room in 2013 – you obviously didn’t do enough in a Pro Bowl year in 2012, so what makes anyone think anything less productively will translate into that big contract?  And through it all, it won’t mean anything for the Steelers.  The longer he waits the less the Steelers will want to sign.  The more productive Antonio Brown and Co are the less the Steelers will want to sign.  His unwillingness to accept the tender after the draft will only continue to create a divide between himself and the front office.  Wallace needed to pull an Ace before the draft and instead pulled a Two of Spades.  He gambled and lost.  Time to suck it up, work hard, play hard and get those big bucks next season.

Quick, someone run down to that dock and let him know that there’s still a chance for an even bigger boat with even more money to pull up – all he has to do is sign and get back onto that football field.  Quick, someone get down there and save him because he obviously can’t save himself.

Topics: Antonio Brown, Ben Roethlisberger, Mike Wallace, Steelers, Todd Haley

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  • DomDiTolla

    Could not have said it better myself Craig, well done.  I hope that if he leaves he ends up in an Offensive wasteland with terrible Quarterback play like Minnesota, Jacksonville, Miami, Oakland, or Cleveland.  Make him wish he had Ben to catch passes from and a group of WR’s and a Tight End like Heath that can help take pressure off of him at times.
     
    Also, the big story here that many are glossing over is the fact that kudos needs to go to the Rooney’s and Colbert & Co. for not budging and calling Wallace’s ridiculous bluff from a couple months ago.  And even if they happen lose him after this year, they will assuredly get a 3rd Round Compensatory selection in exchange: The same investment they made in him in ’09.  But the beauty part is that they essentially got him for the “prime” of his career, and any other team that gets him will not see that type of ’09-’11 output.  Just another episode of intelligent fiscal and football decisions for this group.

  • SteelerChick

    You could be right but I think Wallace should sign by June 15 if he has any common sense. He’s too young to ruin his career now and he’s got so much to lose (over $2M), as you so eloquently point out. I also think Mike’s agent Bus Cook is giving Mike very bad advice. Cook should know better than to try to test the Steelers when it comes to contract money. IMO, Cook most likely leaked the comment about Mike wanting Fitzgerald money. Sitting out will not only put Mike behind in learning the new playbook, he will look bad to other teams–none of which wanted him during free agency since he got not one offer. Sitting out will only hurt him and I hope he realizes that fact soon. Having met Mike a couple of times, I like him as a person and give him a break because he’s only 24 years old…but if he’s not going to listen to Hines Ward–whose only regret in 14 years was holding out–then he won’t listen to anyone (except Bus Cook). Unfortunately for Mike, the Steelers will do just fine without him. Do yourself a favor, Mike: SIGN THE CONTRACT.

  • craig.nicepickcowher

     @SteelerChick Bus Cook must think he’s freakin’ Drew Rosenhaus if he believes he can yank the Steelers like this and get Wallace Fitzgerald type money.  Time to get a new agent….