NFL Rumors: Mike Wallace Delusional to Expect Massive Contract in Free Agency

Ross Dautel@@RossDautelContributor IIIMarch 22, 2012

Is Mike Wallace really worth as much as Larry Fitzgerald?
Is Mike Wallace really worth as much as Larry Fitzgerald?Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Mike Wallace has been one of the most sought-after free-agent wide receivers in the NFL this offseason.

While Wallace's speed and skill set make him an elite downfield threat, the third-year player out of Ole Miss still hasn't proven he can take over a game like other players at his position, such as Larry Fitzgerald and Calvin Johnson.

However, according to Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee, Wallace is demanding that his contract exceed that of Fitzgerald, whose current deal is worth $120 million over eight years.

$120 million? For Mike Wallace? The same Mike Wallace that failed to top the 100-yard mark in each of his last 10 starts, including the postseason? Fitzgerald managed to notch four such games during that same stretch.

Sure, Wallace's downfield ability is unquestioned and one could even make a case for him being the fastest player in the NFL with his 4.28 40-yard dash.

But for Wallace to demand Larry Fitzgerald-type money is simply foolish on his part. Any NFL team would be crazy to offer him that kind of cash.

In order to even obtain the rights to negotiate with Wallace, the NFL team must first ship a first-round pick to Pittsburgh due to Wallace's status as a restricted free agent.

Wallace would have all the leverage in his corner during the negotiation process, because the team that he deals with wouldn't want to part ways with a first-round selection without receiving a player like Wallace in return.

Teams like the 49ers had expressed interest in Wallace but have wisely backed off after learning how high the asking price was.

The better scenario for Wallace is to sign a one-year restricted free-agent contract with the Steelers. By doing so, the young wide receiver would allow himself more time to increase his stock in free agency with another big year.

Barring injury, Wallace's stock would be off the charts in the 2013 offseason, when he would be an unrestricted free agent.

So while Wallace is one of the bright young talents at the wide receiver position in the NFL, he isn't quite up to par with the likes of Fitzgerald and Johnson. As a result, he shouldn't command as much money.

However, if you give him one more year to prove what he can do, that eight-year, $120 million contract could be more of a reality in 2013.