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Teams pass on Wallace, but what’s next


The deadline for teams signing restricted free agent wide receiver Mike Wallace to an offer sheet passed at 11:59 p.m. Friday night with no takers thus ensuring Wallace will be back for another year, baring an unlikely draft-day trade.

However, Wallace still has a handful of options that he and his agent Bus Cook will explore within the next couple weeks.

Reports surfaced last week that Wallace doesn’t plan to sign the first-round tender the Steelers offered any time soon, and doesn’t plan to attend voluntary offseason workouts that begin May 22.

The Steelers will hold its mandatory minicamp from June 12-14 that Wallace could skip and not incur any fine from the team because he still wouldn’t be under contract with the team if he doesn’t sign the tender.

June 14 will be the last time the team is together until the start of training camp set for the end of July.

Wallace has options, albeit limited, and not many that gives him any leverage, including holding out the entire year or holding out until after Week 10 that would allow him to become an unrestricted free agent next year.

If Wallace would choose to not sign his tender, it would cost him millions this year, thus making that option unlikely.

Wallace can choose not to sign the first-round restricted free agent qualifying tender the Steelers offered him last month that would guarantee him a raise of $2.16 million for the upcoming season.

However, if Wallace doesn’t sign his $2.742 million tender by June 15, under CBA guidelines, the Steelers could reduce their offer drastically to 110 percent of his $580,000 salary last year.

In order to do that, the Steelers must tender Wallace a one-year contract of at least $638,000 by June 1.

Wallace could accept the reduced tender, hold out until after the Nov. 12 game against Kansas City and become an unrestricted free agent after the season (Vincent Jackson did that two years ago).

If Wallace decides to hold out the entire year, he would lose an accrued season and still be a restricted free agent again next year.

The Steelers can still negotiate a long-term deal with Wallace up until their self-imposed deadline of the start of the season, but with Wallace reportedly wanting Larry Fitzgerald money ($16 million a year), it is growing more likely that Wallace will play out the final year of his rookie deal and test free agency next spring.

The Steelers could franchise tag Wallace next year, but with that number pushing well past the $10 million mark, that too is unlikely.

Wallace, 25, has started 34 of his 48 career games. He had back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons and 24 touchdowns in three years. His 18.7 yards per reception ranks first among active receivers and is in the top 25 all-time.

The Steelers re-signed veteran Jerricho Cotchery last week to go along with two third-year receivers in Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders – both of whom will be restricted free agents next year.

• Mark Kaboly
• Posted: 4/21 at 12:01 a.m.
• @MarkKaboly_Trib


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 three Super Bowls -- XL in Detroit, XLIII in Tampa and XLV in Dallas. 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


  1. Paulie Raspa says:

    Think back to when you were a kid playing Pee wee football –Then Hign School Football —
    Think back to the ethics & Morals your parents brought you up with — the environment you came from — Not sure about the background of your family but $2mm is “allot of coin” and I am sure that the amount you ultimately sign for will come to fruition..
    You have been to 1 Super Bowl and have an Elite TEAM, a TOP 5 NFL Team…. Do not be short-sighted — SUCK IT UP & GO PLAY!!!

  2. rob Henderson says:

    Until we hear from Wallace or Bus Cook everything is just speculation. Hopefully Wallace shows up Monday and signs his tender. If he doesn’t sign his tender It will be Speculated all throughout the draft that he might be traded.
    If your just going to let him leave why not get a 2nd & 6st now instead of waiting 2yrs for a compensatory 3rd.

  3. olddog says:

    Mike Wallace is a very good receiever with great upside potential, HOWEVER, he is not THAT good yet. It appears that greed has taken hold of Mike and I am sure his agent is part of that too. He has to realize he is playing for the best organization in all of sports. Just ask any player who has left and they will tell you it was a mistake. I have but one question for Mike Wallace……did you learn nothing from Hines Ward ?????

  4. Imp'n'Arn says:

    I hope the Steelers draft BYU DT Hebron Fangupo because his name is fun to say.


  5. Matt says:

    So he made $580k last year and will make 2+ million this year. That’s a pretty nice raise. Then he is either going to be franchised and make about $10 mill or probably about the same in a free agent contract. Best move for Mike is to sign the one year and not be a baby about it. His agent has to know the Steelers are not going to give him Fitzgerald money. I really don’t think this is going to be an issue but who knows, wide receivers tend to be a little nutty in these situations. Either way we have plenty of talent at that position. Go Steelers…beat Denver!!!

  6. Sidwe3 says:

    Steelers never over pay for wideouts who may only touch ball 10 x a game. Wallace is not the game changed that Fitgerald is. Yes he has done some great things but he seems it looks like more defenses are getting better coverage on him. I thought Brosn was more valuable at season end. I say trade him because there is no way they will pay him. Remember the year Hines held out when he didn’t get a new deal? I lost respect for him after that but he was more valuable than Wallace. Pitt in better position now with the receivers, tight ends and backs now.

  7. Joe says:

    He is a very good receiver, but not yet in the class of the top receivers in the league. Remember, he disappeared in the second half of last season and was a non-factor. I also can’t seem to forget that in the last drive in SB45 he was the target of all Ben’s passes in the final game-winning drive. 4 incompletions. I am not a big fan of Santonio Holmes and his attitude, but as he said in a similar situation against the Cardinals “time to be great.” The great ones rise up in that situation. Wallace hasn’t done so yet.

  8. Rick says:

    Gee, Wallace, $2 Mil is more than many people make in their lifetimes. You can make it in one year.
    Oh, yeah, I forgot, minus your hair brained agent’s fees!
    Still, more than enough.
    Sign, play, perform as you are capable of, then see what falls for next year.

    One thing is for certain, at least right now, we won’t have to deal with a Raven Poe!!! (get it)
    We draft before they do. So only a trade could change that.

  9. JAMESH says:

    olddog – Asking Mike Wallace if he learned nothing from Hines Ward is a bad example. Do you remember Hines holding out?

  10. If Wallace thinks he can win by playing hard ball with the Steelers, he’s mistaken. Even Ward had to show up to camp to get what he wants.

    I could be wrong, but I can imagine his talks with the Steelers go no where until he signs the tender.

  11. The Steelers should sit tight knowing that they will sign Wallace this year and can then franchise him next year which is a fairly affordable option (average salary of $6.5 million per year). This is accomplished without even negotiating and the shelf life for a speed receiver is not all that long – Wallace may be quite average after two more years. Who knows?
    If they want to be generous, they could offer him a three year deal somewhere in the 20 million range. I’ll be surprised if he is still an elite receiver much longer than three more years since much of what he brings is speed and that is fleeting with age. Tack on a third year to make him happy that the deal will let him test the free agency market while (at least) he feels he will still be in his prime. I doubt he will still be elite in three years, but athletes rarely have a realistic view of their worth to an organization on the downside of their careers. Wallace will still be able to sign another large free agent contract because there will always be idiot GM’s like those of the Jets and the Cowboys!

  12. Dick says:

    No doubt the Steelers have a plan worked out for Mike Wallace. He is a talented receiver but opposing defenses have been working on how to defense him. I sure wish he would get his head on straight and stay where he is. He would still be well paid and if his agent was smart he would be looking for guaranteed job security for his client rather than breaking the bank. But, the world will not end if Wallace decides he does not want to be a Steeler. I am not sure he is any more valuable that Antonio Brown anyway. So go ahead, Mike but think long and hard before you leave and, remember who drafted you and gave you the opportunity of a lifetime. Also Mike, be realistic, you are not repeat not worth Larry Fitzgerald money yet.

  13. David says:

    i have to admit, even tho defenses are figuring Wallace out, he still commands thier attention, and double coverage, he allows things to open up underneathe, so for anyone to say he dropped off the radar at the end of the season, isn’t saying why that happened, as i just did, at any rate, i hope the coaches can see if he is taking plays off or doing a moss/to tandem and not allow this scenario to take root, I think Wallace is a tremendous asset to the steelers and this fan nation, but we also don’t need turmoil in the locker room, which i don’t think the other players will allow to happen, hopefully someone like #25 Clark will step in and give him some sound advice, i like Clark, the dude is smart…..

  14. HotRod26 says:

    Mike, ask Larry Foote. He left for 1 year & decided it was better to come back to the Steelers as a backup, then stay in Detroit.

    It should be a non issue. The Steelers will make him a fair offer, if he declines, then sign your tender & test the market next offseason. Ben will still be helping you get your stats, so your value should stay the same.

  15. hammertime says:

    Guess he wasn’t as popular as he thought, can’t blame the guy for trying to lock up some job security this year rather than wait and mybe get hurt playing on a one year contract, WITH ALL THAT SAID, MIKE WALLACE (and his AGENT) NEED TO LOSE THAT EXAGGERATED IDEA ABOUT HIS WORTH, 8.5 MAYBE 9.0 MILLION A YEAR SHOULD FIT HIM NICE, “he won’t get a Penny more”, AND IF he wants to “HOLD OUT”, TRADE HIS A-S THIS YEAR, and lets move on!!!!!!!!!

  16. DK67 says:

    Not a lot that hasn’t been said already, except that Wallace will continue to perform this year regardless of this contract situation, because he will want to showcase his talents and not label himself as a ‘trouble maker’ prior to next years free agency when teams will not have to give up as much to get him. He could go all ‘T.O.’ on us, but not likely and definitely not smart if he does.

  17. chad says:

    Cut a trade for a second round pick and bring back Hines for one more year. Later Wallace you were fun to watch but now lets get back to Steelers football!

  18. mark mcfadden says:

    Look to clarify for all you out their, the Steelers do the same thing with all of their contract signees (Wallace) They know he wants, it’s probably 8-9 million, their target is 7-8 million and they pretend they are not going to budge at 6-7 million per year and they will wait him out, for up to 4 months, sept. (yes even that late). When they finally counter back at the 7-8 million range they will accept, But if his agent was smart enough in the beginning and he started high and stayed high, he may be now at the between 9 and 10 million a year range, and the Steelers are still at 6-8 million a year and because of the distance between the two, there may never be a counter offer unless Wallace gets tired months from now and forces the issue with his agent, then the Steelers may end up paying him over 8 million a year in the latter circumstance, so my guess is if a deal gets done he’ll receive 7.2–8.3 million when it is all over if it ever really get there at all. They may be quite far apart right now and sometimes these far apart situations never get resolved, and that is OK the problem is Wallace is not intelligent enough to take over the negotiations nor forceful enough, nor recognize the importance of playing for the team that you dont have to learn a new system and new quarterback) and the importance of spending your career with a perennial playoff team. My feel is it never gets resolved and Wallace tests free agency next year, and that is OK. Steelers have 2 wide receivers in mind in the later rounds, if no one grabs them they will pick at least one of them.

    Steeler’s musts in the draft are either nose tackle or inside linebacker 1 round, then guard, probably wont find a tackle worth drafting early unless they get real lucky, then outside linebacker, cornerback, WR, possibly a safety but these college safeties are not going run stoppers, usually a 2-3 year project, better to get one in free agency. And there are always late round RB draft steals in a 7 round draft, they will get one their. Without the safety that’s 8 picks.

  19. mark mcfadden says:

    I hope Colbert remembers what I told Cowher years ago, before you pull the trigger on your draft pick make sure he hates to lose against anyone and wont let anyone beat him in a competion ever (always finds a way to win or beat his opponent) (WHO am I describing now?) Lets see: Antonio Brown, Ben, Harrison, In the past Hampton, Farrior, Carnel Lake, Hines Ward, and our current pro-bowl center and safety, Taylor used to be that way, but I dont think he loves the game anymore. So hopefully someone from the Steelers will see this and remember, pick an Antonio Brown tenacious personality , he has to be “an always fighter type”, he has to have supreme confidence and cockiness, He has to have the internal “KILLER INSTINCT” that is undeniable and can readily be seen, (Kordell Stewart lacked killer instinct. Without it PHYSICALLY GIFTED” will not produce on a consistent basis, maybe what Taylor is lacking. So before you pull that trigger make sure he hates, hates, hates, to lose. Look for all the Jack Lamberts in the draft, find all the fighters (Hines Wards) (Big Ben) speed and size most times doesn’t matter, it’s the fight in the dog that wins all his battles (James Harrison). If he is not a Jack Lambert type take a second look at your other options. Poe looks great, has everything needed to succeed, forget his film, is he a momma’s boy, or is he a man’s man, is he a poser doesn’t show his real personality, faking it, tends to lie or make excuses, or is he a fighter, and an angry person underneath, can you see anything fierce in him, because the guy from Michigan, may have those qualities, Maybe they “STEEL” Hightower in the 1st round from the Ravens and get Mike Martin (Michigan) or someone else who is a fighter (Jamain Stephen was opposite of Lambert, absolutely no fight) and absolute fighter, will not be denied (Antonio Brown)(James Harrison) (Hines Ward)(Markice Pouncey), remember this is a game of fighters, the ones that like to fight the most, and like to fight or hurt others most often are your draft winners this week. So fill us up with a draft full of Lamberts. Good Luck Steelers. Wish I hadnt lost the phone numbers and fax number.

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