Steeler Nation became all a buzz early this week when it was reported that there is a date set for Mike Wallace to finally report to the Steelers and that date is this Sunday. Wallace has been absent from the Steelers since January, unhappy with his contract situation. Word is he will finally report and end the longest “hold-out” in team history, sign his tender, and rejoin the team. The question is; is Steeler Nation ready to take him back?
You’re gosh darn right we are! Hey I don’t like contact negotiations anymore than the next fan who can’t wrap their heads around the kind of money NFL players make. This will forever and always be a disconnect between players and fans. But I can’t blame the kid for wanting to get the most that he can, especially in a league where your next season isn’t always a guarantee. He just went about it the wrong way, in my opinion.
Hold-outs are common in the NFL these days, but not very common within the Steelers organization. Technically, Wallace isn’t a hold-out; he was just refusing to sign his tender. Only players that are under contract but are not reporting (i.e. MJD in Jagoffville) are holding out. The one thing that Wallace and MJD have in common is they both are overestimating what they are worth to their current teams. In the NFL, you’re only as valuable as what someone is willing to pay, and while that sometimes means the sky’s the limit for free agents, it’s not the same for RFA’s and players under contract. Both Wallace and MJD clearly outperformed their previous/current contracts, but neither have the freedom to dictate how much they can get because of their statuses. Wallace wanted to be treated like an unrestricted free agent and he wasn’t. I’m not quite sure why Wallace would have gone so long without reporting considering the organization’s stance on not negotiating until he reported. It’s not like he was going to get a dime more by staying away, and the Steelers have said all along he wouldn’t be traded, and they wanted to sign him to a long term deal.
When all is said and done this is the business side of the game. While us as fans will take almost everything personal, this contract dispute between Wallace and the Steelers is all business and I guarantee there are no hard feelings on either side. Wallace will be welcomed back to the South Side facilities will open arms and the remaining two weeks before the regular season begins, Colbert will spend trying to get Wallace signed to a long term deal like what was the plan all along. It’s a business, Wallace made his point that he thought he was worth more than the $2.7 million tender, and Colbert made the point that they won’t negotiate a long term deal unless Wallace reports. Like Cris Carter said on ESPN Radio yesterday, “Every dude that has held out eventually reports.” While Wallace held the leverage that he is an integral part of the Steelers offense and he’s needed for their success, the Steelers like any other team has the leverage that players want to play and it’s not like they’re going to voluntarily join the Arena League over a contract dispute.
And yes, Wallace is needed for the Steelers offensive success, make no mistake of that. Antonio Brown, while versatile and hard working, does not get the open looks he does without the opposing defense having to account for Wallace on the field. We haven’t even begun to scratch the surface on what Haley has concocted for this offense so far in the preseason. Wallace on the field stretches the offense and causes the defense to change their secondary to account for him. Not only will the front office welcome Wallace back with open arms, but his teammates will as well. They know that Wallace on the field makes the offense as a whole, better. There’s no telling how long it will take for Wallace to learn the new Haley offense, but he’s had the playbook this whole time so there shouldn’t be much time to devote to learning the plays.
I, for one, am glad the whole Wallace drama is coming to an end. It was an unpleasant part of the offseason to have a player in a dispute with the front office, especially since Steeler Nation has such love and respect for the whole organization, including the front office. But, the NFL is a business and sometimes this is a part of business. There won’t be anyone in the organization holding anything against Wallace once he returns, so Steeler Nation shouldn’t either. But Wallace better be in some good shape because if he pulls a hammy in Week 1 so help me God, we are gonna friggin lose it! Go Steelers!
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