Mike Wallace: Why Steelers WR Should Stretch Holdout into the Regular Season
With ESPN's Adam Schefter reporting Tuesday that disgruntled Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace plans on reporting to camp before the regular season begins, the Pro Bowler's holdout is now the most pointless story in all of football.
And that's exactly why Wallace has just two options remaining: report to camp now, or stretch his holdout into the regular season.
If the team knows he's coming back before the games that actually matter, it doesn't have to worry about replacing his 72 receptions, 1193 yards and eight touchdowns. The Rooneys can continue their hard-line stance on contract holdouts/extensions knowing that the scorn from fans will wash away instantly when Wallace reports to camp.
The Steelers will win, the Rooneys will profit and another NFL player will go through a season vastly underpaid.
On the other hand, teammates won't be so understanding. All players support each other when it comes to getting paid. That's an unalienable fact that stretches across the sports spectrum, but especially rings true in the non-guaranteed world of NFL contracts.
However, if Wallace's holdout turns into little more than a camp-skipping mechanism, it could cause some internal resentment. Training camp is seen as a yearly rite of passage for football players going back to high school. A skipper that gets paid? Totally fine. One that doesn't? Not so much.
With that in mind, Wallace should simply change his mind and prolong his holdout until the league's experience accruement of Week 10 or until the Steelers pay him a fair market value contract.
If Wallace wants a case study for his holdout strategy, he should take a look at Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Vincent Jackson.
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Before the 2010 season, Jackson was essentially the San Diego Chargers' version of Wallace. He stretched the field for quarterback Philip Rivers as the team's big-play threat, opening up easy routes underneath and preventing teams from stacking the box against the run.
Even Jackson's 2009 stat-line (68 receptions, 1167 receiving yards, nine touchdowns) is eerily similar to Wallace's numbers from last year.
And, like the Steelers, the Chargers spent the whole summer of 2010 low-balling Jackson because he was a restricted free agent.
But unlike most NFL players who usually sign the low-ball deal or simply come report to camp, the then-Chargers star held out until Week 10 and left the team to struggle without him.
Sure, the entire 2010 campaign turned out to be a lost season for Jackson and he came out of the dispute hated in San Diego.
It doesn't matter. Being loved won't pay Jackson's mortgage. The $11.4 million he made as San Diego's franchise player last season and the $55.5 million Jackson will earn over the next five years in Tampa will.
If Wallace follows Jackson's lead, the Steelers will be forced to pay him or risk losing a year of contention for an aging nucleus.
It's not as if the franchise is hemorrhaging money. Pittsburgh already gave fellow flanker Antonio Brown $42.5 million over five years this offseason. This is simply the case of yet another NFL team thinking it can bully a player into submission.
Are the Steelers being unfair to Mike Wallace?
It's not like the Steelers would fork over a $50 million apology if Wallace comes into camp, plays the good soldier and blows out his knee on snap one, Week 1.
The organization would move on to the next breakout stud, citing the "best interest of the franchise," and the NFL will move on without skipping a beat.
It's time for Wallace to take a queue from his franchise and look out for his best interest.
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