The Mike Wallace saga has come upon yet another significant date with very much the same action being taken – nothing.
Today is the (only) day the Steelers can slash Wallace’s still-unsigned one-year restricted free agent tender worth $2.72 million to $577,000 for the upcoming season.
The Steelers won’t do that.
“That’s never been an intention of ours,” Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert told 105.9 The X’s Mark Madden yesterday. “When we tendered Mike at the amount we did, the compensation through that tender, we really had no issue with that whatsoever because he is deserving of that.”
Wallace skipped voluntary organized team activities over the past month along with mandatory minicamp this week. Because Wallace has yet to sign his tender, and technically isn’t under contract, he was not required to attend any offseason practices.
Colbert said that the organization is still confident that the two sides will come together on a long-term contract before the start of the season.
“We want him to get a long-term deal that he deserves and I am real confident that we will be able to do that because when both sides want the same thing, it is only a matter of time,” Colbert told Madden.
Wallace reportedly wants somewhere in the neighborhood of $12-16 million a year, which would put him among some of the top paid receivers in the league.
The Steelers will not pay Wallace that kind of money because they don’t believe in paying a receiver as much as their franchise quarterback.
Also, salary cap space is an issue going forward for the Steelers thus hurting Wallace’s negotiations with his old team.
The Steelers slashed $30 million from their salary cap this year before free agency started by restructuring contracts and releasing veterans. They are loosely projected to be $10 million over the salary cap next year.
The next important date for the “Wallace Watch” will be July 25 – the first day of training camp. Still, there is no guarantee he will show up at St. Vincent College, either.
Wallace could hold out until after the Nov. 12 game against Kansas City and still become an unrestricted free agent after the season (Vincent Jackson did that two years ago then signed a 5-year, $55 million deal with Tampa this year).
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, which would not be a road he would take.
If a long-term deal is not reached, the Steelers could still hold onto Wallace for up to three more years. The Steelers could franchise tag Wallace each of the next three seasons, but with that number pushing well past the $10 million mark next year alone, 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 better than Randy Moss and Jerry Rice through the first three years of their careers.
• Mark Kaboly
• Posted: June 15 at 9:45 a.m.