NFL Free Agents 2012: There Was Never a Market for Steelers WR Mike Wallace

Cian Fahey@CianafFeatured ColumnistMarch 18, 2012

PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 16:  Dawan Landry #26 and Drew Coleman #30 of the Jacksonville Jaguars defend a pass in front of Mike Wallace #17 of the Pittsburgh Steelers during the game on October 16, 2011 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

The San Francisco 49ers and New England Patriots brought in receivers yesterday to essentially guarantee that no team would make a move for the Pittsburgh Steelers' RFA Mike Wallace.

Wallace, entering his fourth season in the NFL, could have been signed, and still could, for a first round pick this off-season.

Wallace was only available because the team had no cap space to franchise tag him but instead of giving up a draft pick for the speedy receiver, every other team has seemingly either addressed that need through unrestricted free agents such as Vincent Jackson and Pierre Garcon or by trading such as the Chicago Bears' deal for Brandon Marshall.

At the end of the day, considering the value of wide receivers in recent trade deals in the NFL, such as that Marshall deal just mentioned and the Santonio Holmes' deal three years ago, it should come as no surprise that a market never developed for Mike Wallace's services.

Wallace is a very talented receiver and arguably the best deep threat in the NFL. He is only 25 years of age and has already proven himself as a leading receiver for the Steelers while still having his best years of his career ahead of him.

For those very reasons, there was a lot of speculation that Wallace would see a few offers on the open market for his services.

It made sense of course for the New England Patriots or San Francisco 49ers to try to sign Wallace because they would not have to give up a high draft pick to attain him. If the 49ers had wanted Wallace they would have given up the 30th pick while the Patriots would have had to give up the 31st.

Instead, the 49ers decided to take a flier on Randy Moss, for no guaranteed money and a one year deal, as well as yesterday signing Mario Manningham to a two year deal. With Manningham and Moss on the roster, the 49ers got two speedsters who can stretch the field on the outside opening up the offense for Vernon Davis, and maybe even Michael Crabtree, to work the underneath coverage.

Moss and Manningham also allowed the team to keep their first round draft pick that can be used to strengthen the team further. Essentially the 49ers never had any real reason to be interested in Wallace because they would never have received true value in return for him.

The best situation in which they could have signed Wallace was if they didn't bring in Moss and just had Manningham with Wallace but no first round pick. Instead the 49ers got both a young and old receiver to improve their offense now with the potential to add another talented youngster to the roster in the draft.

While it did appear to be a very Belichickian move, the Patriots never really made sense for Wallace either when you break down their activity from yesterday.

The Patriots signed Anthony Gonzalez initially from the Colts as somewhat of a no risk/big reward deal, typical to their work of the past. Initially the Gonzalez signature had fans baffled and frustrated as they were hoping for a proven star opposed to a banged up reject from the Colts.

It was difficult to define how Gonzalez fit in the Patriots offense until their next signing.

Once Brandon Lloyd arrived in New England it became clear that Gonzalez was simply signed to compete in camp and fill out the depth chart. Lloyd possesses all the speed that the offense was in dire need of while he is also proven as the number one receiver which the team so desperately covets.

Furthermore, Lloyd was signed to a ridiculous three year $12 million deal. Paying only $4 million for Brandon Lloyd opposed to potentially doubling that figure and sacrificing an extra draft pick along the way is a much better deal for any team.

Lloyd was signed for, relative, pennies. Compared to other receivers who got deals on the market, such as Pierre Garcon and Vincent Jackson, Lloyd is being paid like a scrub who just walked in off the street, or in other words: half of the Patriots' secondary.

With that kind of value on the open market for the Patriots, it is no surprise that they never made a move for Mike Wallace.

Maybe Steelers fans overvalued Mike Wallace. Maybe they were simply over-anxious about the possibility of losing him, but in reality, it was never really a prudent move for any team to actually try to pries the youngster away from the team.

The market for Mike Wallace hasn't developed yet, there is absolutely no reason to believe it ever will either.

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