What Mike Wallace's Return Would Mean for the Pittsburgh Steelers
The holdout of Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace may be coming to an anticlimactic end this weekend.
"Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace has informed teammates that his plan is to show up this weekend and sign his restricted free agent tender. The speedster sat out training camp, with hopes of reaching a long-term extension. Two sources with knowledge of Wallace's plans confirmed the conversations."
Under his one-year tender, Wallace would make just $2.742 million next season.
What does Wallace's potential return mean for the Steelers? We analyze that discussion below.
Steelers Get Best WR Back
Pittsburgh paid Antonio Brown $42.5 million this offseason, but it's Wallace who has earned the title of the team's best receiver.
His production and deep-threat ability separate him from any other receiver on the Steelers' roster.
Wallace has caught 171 passes for 3,206 yards and 24 touchdowns in three seasons with the Steelers, which equates to roughly 57 catches, 1,068 yards and eight touchdowns a season. During that three span, Wallace ranks 10th in the NFL in receiving yards and seventh in total touchdowns among receivers.
His career yards per catch is also a staggering 18.7. That number leads all active NFL receivers by over a half-yard, proving just how dynamic a deep threat Wallace has been in three short years. In fact, there may not be another receiver in the game as good at taking the lid off a defense as Wallace.
Time to Learn Offense
Wallace won't be back in time for the Steelers' third preseason game this weekend, and it's possible he may not play in the team's final preseason game a week later. But Wallace's return does give the receiver a chance to finally learn coordinator Todd Haley's new offense.
He'll most likely start the season behind the curve, but any time in camp working with the No. 1 offense is better than jumping into things cold turkey during the regular season.
Re-Affirms the Steelers' Offensive Identity
Bringing Haley on board was already a signal that the Steelers would retain a pass-heavy offense, but Wallace's potential return should guarantee it.
The Steelers have a banged up backfield but plenty of weapons in the passing game, including Wallace and Brown. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has proven to be one of the game's quarterbacks.
The Rooney's can push for a more run-balanced offense as much as they'd like, but this is a team built to throw the football down field.
Re-Opening of Contract Talks?
Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette had once closed the door on the Steelers negotiating with Wallace on a new deal, but it appears a return from Wallace would re-open those discussions.
"It also could reopen negotiations on a multiple-year deal between Wallace and the Steelers, talks that ended when he did not report for the start of training camp July 25. The Steelers have a long-standing policy of not negotiating contracts once the regular-season begins. So if Wallace signs his one-year tender Sunday or Monday, it would give them less than two weeks to work on a multiple-year deal with him."
Wallace would be an unrestricted free agent next spring if he played out his one-year tender in 2012. While that is attractive to Wallace in a certain sense, the security of a long-term deal is still the main driving point behind his hold out.
If the two sides could re-open talks with Wallace in camp, finding a middle ground could be accelerated. For the Steelers, getting Wallace under contract long-term before the regular season begins would be a big positive.
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