The Steelers are about to embark on their summer vacations before returning to Latrobe for the official start to the 2012-13 season. By all accounts OTAs and Minicamp were successful as the team transitions to a younger defense and a brand new offense. Of course it’s difficult if not impossible to truly judge how successful the team will be under these changes considering there were no pads or hitting involved, but most if not all of Steeler Nation is very optimistic about the upcoming season. However it’s not that easy to keep the warm and fuzzies about the situation considering there is some definite unfinished business to attend to. The question on everyone’s mind –besides whether or not Big Ben’s son will be born during the season or not- is how much longer will Mike Wallace go without signing?
Today marks the deadline the Wallace had to sign his $2.7 million tender before the Steelers were entitled to reduce the amount significantly. The organization has already stated they will not be lowering his tender at all and are committed to signing Mike to a long term deal. Unfortunately reports are that there has been little to no movement in negotiations at this point. Earlier this week at the beginning of Minicamp Steelers president Art Rooney II was questioned about Wallace’s absence from the team activities and he replied, “He should be here.”
With opinions being like a certain body part, this situation is no different. Everyone has a different view on what the Steelers should do about Wallace and what Wallace should do from here on out. Fans never like a hold out. The issue of money and contracts will forever be a source of disconnect between athletes and fans, there’s just no way around it. Most people say Wallace is being greedy and is just after the Megatron and Fitzgerald money he was rumored to be asking for during the free agency period. The Steelers have a certain reputation for rewarding player with the big contracts on their time, not the players’ expectations. So far that has worked for them, only rarely has a player successfully held out for more money or a longer contract and the last one to do that was Hines Ward in 2005.
The most common viewpoint on how this situation is going is that Wallace is trying to hold out for some giant payday and doesn’t really care about the Steelers or the fans or loyalty and he hates puppies. Well I’m not really sure about his feelings towards puppies but in reality we don’t really know his true position on the contract situation ether. It dawned on me, especially seeing as how he was unsuccessful at grabbing a big contract when he was testing the free agency waters that he might just be after a long term deal with the Steelers after all. No team was willing to give up a big contract plus a first round draft pick for Wallace as a RFA and if he doesn’t have a good season this year with the Steelers it’s unlikely another team will cough up a bunch of money for him next year.
Clearly the money is part of the issue as well or else a deal would have been done by now. But let’s not jump to conclusions that Wallace isn’t on board with the Steeler way of doing things and is only seeing dollar signs. I tend to think that neither he nor his agent are morons and have some misconception that they could be the first athlete/agent combo to strong arm the Steelers into giving up a bigger contract than they want to. I think they realize that there is a ceiling the Steelers won’t go over in the money category so it would be futile to blow the season in an attempt to make Wallace a top paid wide receiver. I would think that both sides can recognize that although Wallace had a less than stellar second half of last season he clearly outperformed his contract. It really only hurts Wallace if he’s going to hold out till November to sign so I seriously doubt that’s going to happen either. The Steelers can manage the season and be successful without Wallace in the lineup. Remember what Ike said “You need football more than football needs you.”
Honestly, I was expecting to get word on the 14th that Wallace had signed the tender and was going to show up for the last day of Minicamp at least. Unfortunately that was not the case. However, I’m somehow feeling more optimistic about the situation now than before. I realize that he just missed out on OTAs and Minicamp as well as the crazy hat contest, but he’s got the playbook, there’s no reason to think he’s not keeping himself in excellent condition, and there’s plenty of time from now until training camp opens. Since this has gone on longer than anyone had expected it’s making me lean towards the idea that Wallace is more after locking down a long term deal with the Steelers rather than just trying to hold their feet to the flame for big bucks. If I was a betting girl, I’d put money on Wallace being there with his pillows and gaming system ready to check into the dorms at St. Vincent College in July. I think the deal gets done sooner rather than later. But that could just be all the optimism I have about the younger defense and brand new offense spilling over.
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