The Steelers may not be able to come to terms with their young speedster receiver, Mike Wallace. And if by chance that happens, the Steelers may (or very well may not) be on the market to pick up a viable #2 or #3 receiver to compete against the rest of The Core while in camp or even someone who could come along post-Wallace era.
While constantly thinking about the Steelers, I get to play a lot of ‘what if’s’ in my head. Some are pleasant, some would make a person shudder. The ‘what if’ currently swirling around the ol’ noggin’ is the Steelers deciding to let Wallace hold out AND take it a step further by looking for another receiver to compete in camp. There’s one in particular who’s available because his former team showed him the door this past Friday. The other potential receiver is not likely to sign a long term deal with his current team and will be forced to play with a franchise tag this year. Without that new deal, he will probably be a free agent next season and may get a good glance by the Steelers were it to come to that. But which one of these receivers – Mike Williams or Wes Welker – would be a viable option over Mike Wallace?
Mike Williams would be entering his 6th season in the NFL were he to play for another team. Williams had a shaky start to his career for the first few years and all but completely disappeared by 2007 when on the Tennessee Titans’ roster. But former college coach and now head coach of the Seahawks, Pete Carroll, signed Williams and got him back in action after Williams missed the 2008 and 2009 seasons. Williams quickly reached a potential everyone could get behind after catching 65 passes for 751 yards in his first season back. After Seattle snagged Sydney Rice from the Vikings, most folks thought that Rice and Williams would be a duo to fear. Williams is 6’5″ and runs a 4.5 40. Not lighting fast, but on par with most receivers. That tall frame and decent hands could snag bomb after bomb if given the chance. However, as most things that come Tavaris Jackson’s way, Williams had a hard time connecting with his QB. Williams’ production fell in 2011 by 500 yards and was shown the door this past Friday.
Williams could be an effective and make an immediate impact for the Steelers were they to sign him to a one year deal by camp. It certainly would show Mike Wallace that the Steelers are playing hard ball and playing for keeps. Everyone is replaceable. Sure, it could sour relations immensely between Wallace and the Steelers, but I can only assume that things aren’t really that great right now with Mike and the FO over this contract stalemate. Williams has a big frame and could be a nice compliment to Antonio Brown on the other side of the field. He’s not as fast as AB, but his size would play a huge advantage. Were the Steelers offense to have a formation that included Williams, AB, Leonard Pope and Heath Miller – that’s 3 out of 4 guys over 6 feet for corners and linebackers to cover. A recipe for big gains over the middle with quick screens and in-curls. Who needs to go big down the field when you can keep peppering a team with 15-20 yard gains every passing down? I think that Williams is far from being washed up. He had the potential in 2010 when he was with Matt Hasselbeck. You have to look at the context of his next season when playing with Tavaris Jackson – who is simply awful. Little Doug Baldwin was their best receiver with over 700 yards. The next top receiver had barely over 400 yards. Jackson and Charlie Whitehurst just killed the offense for these Seahawks. Williams can still cut it in the league and very well could be a good addition to the Steelers if they decide to ‘move on’ from Mike Wallace. Williams was supposed to get $3 million in 2012 and would be a steal.
Should Mike Wallace not sign a long term deal and only play one season with his tender (or no season at all), I could certainly see the Steelers deciding to call it quits with Wallace and not go after him as an unrestricted free agent. At that point, they will have no leverage. If Wallace doesn’t play at all, then we know he is dead set on big money and the Steelers will never offer it up to a guy who hasn’t deserved it yet. So who could be out there as a replacement. Well, regardless of Mike Williams being in the picture or not, there’s a current (and soon to be former) New England Patriot who could take Wallace’s roster spot.
Wes Welker got slapped with the franchise tag this offseason by the Patriots. Welker has been trying to work on an extension with the team this whole time and has until 4pm on Monday to get a deal done. If that doesn’t happen, then he will be forced to play 2012 with his tendered tag of $9.5 million guaranteed. My feeling is that if a long term doesn’t get done by then, then Welker probably won’t get signed at the end of the season by the Pats. There might be a bit of bad blood from all those drops against the Giants in the Super Bowl.
Should Welker be available and the Steelers boot Mike Wallace into the big ocean of free agency, then I think the Steelers could sign Welker to a one year deal. Worth something close to $6 million. It’s a bit pricey and Welker is getting up there in years – will be 32 by next offseason – but, he has yet to show any signs of slowing down. Welker runs a 4.6 40 yard, but his size plays a huge advantage in slants and crossing routes. He is a very good technique football player and, aside from those drops in SB XLVI, has very good dependable hands. He is another version of Hines Ward minus the blocking. And, I would say he’s a cut above Jerricho Cotchery who plays a very similar game. At least right now he is.
I’m sure it’s a bit of a hard pill to swallow to think that the Steelers would sign a guy just like Hines Ward and almost just as old when the Steelers decided to release Ward. Depending on how Cotchery continues to pan out, and depending on how this offense evolves this season without Wallace (for the sake of this post), then Welker could be a good addition and short term solution. There’s no way the Steelers would sign him to anything more than a one year deal, but he could be worth the single season investment. It might be just the thing they need to be Super Bowl bound again. They just may want to bench Welker in February…. I kid I kid.
I honestly think that Williams is the better investment. Bigger frame, younger, and faster are three of his advantages over Welker. Which one would the Steelers go with? Hard to say since we are looking at two different periods in time. But, having to guess which one fits the Steelers offense better and could act as a better replacement over Mike Wallace – I’d have to go with the other Mike. I’m kind of sick of the Wallace ‘thing’ and wouldn’t mind the Steelers going with someone like Williams as a different option. Some sources think Williams could go to the Vikes – God love the irony, right Sydney? As always, we’ll see what happens in the coming weeks.
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Topics: Antonio Brown, Heath Miller, Leonard Pope, Matt Hasselbeck, Mike Wallace, Mike Williams, New England Patriots, Pete Carroll, Seattle Seahawks, Steelers, Sydney Rice, Tavaris Jackson, Wes Welker