Steelers: With Receiver Market Drying Up, What Happens with Mike Wallace?

Nick SignorelliSenior Writer IMarch 16, 2012

PITTSBURGH - SEPTEMBER 18:  Mike Wallace #17 of the Pittsburgh Steelers catches a touchdown pass in front of Brandon Browner #39 of the Seattle Seahawks in the second half during the game on September 18, 2011 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

Since the 2012 Free Agency Frenzy started on Tuesday, we have seen some mega deals happening at the wide receiver position across the NFL.

Some players may be well worth the money, while others still have people scratching their heads. Lets take a look at some of those contracts.

Calvin Johnson (Detroit Lions), seven years, $132 million, $60 million guaranteed.  Yes, Johnson was counting over $20 million against the Lions cap, and this mega contract actually lowered it.  But this deal even eclipses the contract of Larry Fitzgerald.

DeSean Jackson (Philadelphia Eagles), five years, $47 million, $15 million guaranteed.

Randy Moss (San Francisco 49ers), one year, $4 million.

Wes Welker (New England Patriots), Franchise Tag, $9.472 million. Though he has yet to sign the tender.

Vincent Jackson (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), five years, $55.555 million. Tampa was desperate, and the Bucs believed that Jackson was the best available.

Josh Morgan (Washington Redskins), two years, $12 million, $7.5 million guaranteed.

Pierre Garcon (Washington Redskins),  five years, $42.5 million, $21.5 million guaranteed.

Reggie Wayne (Indianapolis Colts), three years, $17.5 million

Marques Colston (New Orleans Saints), five years, $40 million, $20 million guaranteed.

Stevie Johnson (Buffalo Bills), five years, $36.25 million, $19.5 million guaranteed.

Laurent Robinson (Jacksonville Jaguars), five years, $32 million, $13.6 million guaranteed.

That is a LOT of money going to a LOT of players, most of which don't compare to Mike Wallace. And what is happening right now with Wallace?

No one knows.

There have been no rumors of Wallace even having a meeting scheduled with any other team.

The teams that were rumored to be the most interested in the services of Mike Wallace were the 49ers (Randy Moss has been signed, and they are hosting Mario Manningham and Brandon Lloyd), and the Patriots (Franchised Wes Welker and are visiting with restricted free agent Danny Amendola).

That does not mean that no one is going to be interested in Wallace, only that the asking price may be too much, coupled with the loss of a first round pick to go along with it may be too high of a price, even for the fastest man in the NFL.

It is now starting to appear that the "we are going to sign him to a contract the Steelers can't match" philosophy could be out the door, and that Mike Wallace most likely will be playing in Pittsburgh for the 2012 season.


That leads to the speculation that the Steelers will have even a bigger head ache in 2013 than they did this year, with the expiring contracts of not only Mike Wallace, but Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders as well.

Yes, at this time next year, the Steelers CAN do the same thing with Brown and Sanders as they did with Wallace this year, assigning them first round tenders, forcing teams to give up a first round pick for them. And, as that showed with Wallace, may be too high of a price to pay.

Wallace could be kept next year with the franchise tag, but again, that will cost the Steelers in excess of $10 million for one year, and most likely that will be too much of a price for the Steelers to pay then as well.

The new TV money won't be kicking in until 2014, which means the Steelers will probably not have all that much cap room next year either.

So, if the Steelers KNOW that they most likely will lose Wallace after this year, and they KNOW that they would rather keep Brown (team MVP in 2011) and will have to give him his big contract next year, maybe parting ways with Wallace NOW as opposed to 2013 may be the right move for the Steelers to make.

"But, how is that possibly going to happen, if no other team is interested in signing Wallace?"

Well, I'm glad you asked. See, the Steelers have an option that I have not heard come from anyone on any site to this point. (As sure as I type that, someone from some site is going to say they had the idea first) Nothing prevents the Steelers from putting Mike Wallace on the trade block.

Look at the teams that are planning to draft a receiver in the first round of the draft, or teams that need a TRUE No. 1 receiver.  St. Louis (6th pick) Jacksonville (7th pick), Miami (8th pick), or Carolina (9th pick).  What is preventing one of these teams from making a draft day trade with the Steelers for Pick 24 and Mike Wallace to move into the top-10 of the draft?

Then, there are teams in the teens, Seattle (12th pick), New York Jets (16th pick) and San Diego (18th pick) who could be interested in trading their pick for Wallace and the Steelers second round pick.

But, to me, the most intriguing trade partner is a team that has already made one of the biggest trades in NFL history this year, the St. Louis Rams.

The Rams most likely won't want to trade the No. 6 pick, but there is nothing stopping them from either trading their two second round selections to the Steelers for Wallace this year. Considering odds are they are going to be losing both Brandon Lloyd AND Danny Amendola, they are going to need SOMEONE for Sam Bradford to throw the ball to.

They may even choose to offer the Steelers a second round pick this year, and either their first next year, or the Redskins first next year to get Wallace.

Wallace would have been the best receiver on the Rams, even if Lloyd and Amendola both returned. Losing both of them could put a hurting on an offense that Jeff Fisher is going to have to improve to show he was worth the money he is being paid.

Wallace would become the deep threat that Bradford would love, and drawing double teams on every snap would also open up running lanes for Steven Jackson.

So, just because it is currently looking like the Steelers may have a hard time dealing with the Mike Wallace situation, does not mean that the problem is going to last past the first round of the Draft.

And any of the ways you may look at it, could work out great for the Pittsburgh Steelers.


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