It was written in Profootballtalk.com today that the Pittsburgh Steelers will face a dilemma in 2013 with their receiving corps. I have to disagree, and state that what is to come in Pittsburgh is actually going to be a blessing.
According to the new CBA, when a player is at the end of their rookie contract, they are available for unrestricted free agency. That is the reason that you will hear of teams using the franchise tag on players that they could give RFA (restricted free agent) tenders.
Mike Wallace is the perfect example.
If that were the case, then any team could make an offer for Mike Wallace, write in a poison pill provision (if he plays more than four games in Pittsburgh his entire contract is guaranteed), and the Steelers would only get a first-round pick for him. You don't think a team like New England would do something like that?
So Pittsburgh will franchise Wallace, and work out a long-term contract before training camp.
Now, next year, the Steelers will face a similar dilemma, at the same position.
Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders are both entering the last year of their rookie contracts. Next year at this time, we will have the same situation we have now, except with two players.
So, the question is, what is Pittsburgh going to do? Will it be able to keep all three of these players? The simple answer is YES.
Wallace, having just signed his first contract, is pretty much set as the starter at the No. 1 spot. He was that this year, and unless you want to line up Larry Fitzgerald or Calvin Johnson on the other side of him, he is going to be the defensive focal point.
That leaves Brown and Sanders fighting for the No. 2 receiver position. Let them fight it out.
See, only one of these two players is going to be No. 2. One is going to slide into the slot role. It has to happen, there is no other way.
Once that happens, the pecking order is set. One of two situations will play out.
Brown wins the competition, and continues on as the two. At the end of the season, Pittsburgh uses the franchise tag on him and tenders Sanders with a first-round tender.
If Sanders wins the competition, then Sanders gets the franchise tag used on him, and Brown gets the first-round tender.
See, that way, whoever earns the second receiver position will be franchised, guaranteeing that our top two from the year before will still be there. If another team wants to give up a first-round draft pick for a No. 3 receiver, take it.
It doesn't sound like a dilemma to me, it sounds like a pretty good place to be.