Mike Wallace to Washington: Redskins Could Make Room for Blockbuster Move
Free agent wide receiver Mike Wallace is not a happy camper.
In fact, he's not camping out at all. But as a stalemate continues between the Pittsburgh Steelers and their star holdout, rumors are surfacing that the Pro Bowler could end up with another team. That franchise would have to be determined by the Steelers, but if they choose to part ways with Wallace, the Washington Redskins could be waiting in line.
After giving up a king's ransom to draft Robert Griffin III, the Redskins may look like a long-shot to trade for a restricted star like Wallace. But general manager Bruce Allen has done a masterful job with the team's salary cap, despite a $36 million penalty for frontloading contracts.
Wallace is demanding a long-term agreement. If the Redskins want him bad enough, they would have to be clever, but the Steelers might agree to end the drama by receiving players or compensation in return. Washington could also bring in Wallace at his tender rate and promise him a big signing bonus on a long-term backloaded deal.
Allen began with $6.79 million in available cap space. When all was said and done, he left the Redskins with over $2 million of wiggle room.
Normally, that would be just enough to satisfy the cost of players on injured reserve. But Allen has other options at his disposal, if the team wants to sign a veteran free agent.
Restructuring the contract of tight end Chris Cooley is one option, because he is costing the Redskins $6.23 million in cap space this year. The Redskins could also trade Cooley or another high-priced veteran like Santana Moss, whose cap hit stands at $4.3 million.
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So, could Wallace team up with Pierre Garçon as a formidable one-two punch in Washington? If Redskins owner Daniel Snyder can picture it, the chances are excellent.
The latest reports out of Pittsburgh are all over the map, but many of them point to a potential trade of Wallace to another team.
In a Saturday morning column, ProFootballTalk's Michael David Smith wrote that "doubts are growing that Mike Wallace has a future in Pittsburgh." Those doubts grew deep on Friday, when fellow Steelers receiver Antonio Brown signed a new long-term contract with the team.
According to Doug Farrar of Yahoo Sports, Brown got extended through 2017 at a cool $42.5 million. But that only happened after Wallace turned down a five-year, $42 million dollar offer.
Brown's deal also came just two days after Wallace ignored his agent's advice and chose to hold out of training camp.
Wallace, who will be 26 and unrestricted next year, could play out 2012 by signing a one-year tender for $2.742 million. But he has refused to do so and reportedly lowered his salary demands to attract more suitors.
That is why a trade is possible and according to Bouchette's colleague Gerry Dulac, it could happen at any time.
Do not be surprised if Steelers trade Mike Wallace during training camp.
With speculation swirling, Pittsburgh GM Kevin Colbert has tried to practice spin-control. In an interview with ESPN's Ed Werder, he claimed that "Mike Wallace is not available for trade." But the media does not seem to be buying it and Bouchette hammered the point home.
[The Steelers] could allow teams to talk to Wallace and his agent in order to see if they can work out terms of a contract. If so, that team could then try to work a trade with the Steelers. And if they could agree on that, Wallace could sign the one-year tender and then be traded.
That would work out well for a team like the Redskins, who could kick in a pass catcher of their own to consummate the deal. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh would pay dearly for Wallace's stubbornness.
"No team apparently was willing to give up a first-round draft choice for him when he was a restricted free agent, so why would they do it now?" wrote Bouchette. "Santonio Holmes, remember, brought them only a fifth-round pick. I’m guessing with Wallace, it could be a fourth-rounder."
Washington is light on draft picks, but they can certainly spare a mid-rounder for one of the game's most feared deep threats. That way, RGIII will have a bulls eye to throw bombs to.
Joe Versage is a NFL Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report. He previously covered the Buffalo Bills, Washington Redskins and Baltimore Ravens as a television beat reporter. Follow him on Twitter at: @JoeVersage
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