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Good news, bad news about Wallace


If you are a Steelers fan, the first day of free agency was good … no, make that great.

Six teams signed free agent receivers with another signing the night before.

And no, not one of them was named Mike Wallace.

Wallace is a restricted free agent and popular belief had a half dozen teams beating down agent Bus Cook’s door at 4:01 p.m. Tuesday to beg for Wallace’s services.

It didn’t happen, and it is almost assured (not guaranteed) that Wallace will not receive a qualifying offer on the restricted free agent market.

A first-round pick to go along with a hefty front-loaded contract is just too expensive even for a team with a lot of cap space.

Wallace will have no choice but to sign the first-round tender the Steelers offered him and play for $2.742 million this year.

But, of course, there is also bad news.

Although Wallace will likely be a Steeler this year, after that has become very cloudy, especially after what transpired on the first day of free agency.

* Vincent Jackson, 29, signed a 5-year, $55.5 million deal ($26 million guaranteed)

* Pierre Garcon, 25, signed a 5-year, $42.5 million deal ($21.5 million guaranteed)

* Marques Colston, 28, signed a 5-year, $40 million deal ($19 million guaranteed)

* Robert Meachem, 27, signed a 4-year, $25.9 million deal ($14 million guaranteed)

* Reggie Wayne, 33, signed a 3-year, $17.5 million deal.

* Josh Morgan, 26, signed a 2-year, $12 million deal.

Add those to Stevie Johnson’s 5-year, $36.25 million deal a few weeks back and Randy Moss’ 1-year, $4 million deal Monday night, and the price of a wide receiver in this league quickly got out of control.

Then word came down that Detroit receiver Calvin Johnson signed an extension worth $132 million over seven years with $60 million guarenteed and Wallace’s value went up yet another level.

It is a price that the Steelers might not be willing or able to offer Wallace.

You would figure that Wallace would be asking very close to what Jackson got out of Tampa Bay.

Something like 5-years for somewhere in the $50-million range probably would lock Wallace up long-term right now.

Wait until next year when the salary cap is expected to rise significantly and, with another 70-catch, 1,000-yard, 10-touchdown season out of Wallace, the money Jackson got could look like chump change.

The Steelers aren’t going to be able sign Wallace to long-term deal this summer. They just don’t have the money, unless they dump a high-priced veteran (Casey Hampton?)

Now, they could have the money a year from now, but it would be too late by then. Free agency would be upon Wallace who would cash in.

Sure it is about money, but it is also about value when it comes to the Steelers.

The Steelers just don’t place high values on their receivers. They never have.

Just over the past few years alone, they let No. 1 picks Plaxico Burress and Santonio Holmes leave.

They feel they can get top-notch receivers anywhere from the draft to off the street.

Look at the receivers who got big deals already this year – Colston (7th rounder), Johnson (7th rounder), Garcon (6th rounder). Wallace was a 3rd-rounder as well as Emmauel Sanders and Hines Ward. Antonio Brown was a 6th rounder.

When you take in account what happened Tuesday, how much those guys got paid, how the Steelers don’t value receivers and how little disposable cap money they have along with how much some teams might have next year with the cap going up, it’s not a good equation for Wallace staying with the Steelers.

It is a possibility that the Steelers will let Wallace play out his final year of his contract and test the free agent market.

– Mark Kaboly




Author: Mark Kaboly

Mark Kaboly is the Pittburgh Steelers beat writer for the Tribune-Review. Mark has covered more than 300 NFL football games in all 32 NFL cities as well as four Super Bowls -- XL in Detroit, XLIII in Tampa, XLV in Dallas and 50 in San Francisco. A Belle Vernon Area graduate, Mark earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English with a specialization in journalism from California University of Pennsylvania. Mark lives in Port Vue with his wife, Jennifer; daughter Briella; and boys Rocco and Bugsley Pug

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