Breaking Down What Mike Wallace's Return Means to Pittsburgh Steelers

Gary DavenportNFL AnalystAugust 22, 2012

PITTSBURGH - AUGUST 18:  Antonio Brown #84 and Mike Wallace #17 of the Pittsburgh Steelers celebrate after Brown's touchdown against the Philadelphia Eagles during the preseason game on August 18, 2011 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers got a bit of good news this week, as it appears that their offense is about to receive a much-needed shot in the arm.

Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that wide receiver Mike Wallace, who had, to this point, balked at signing the one-year restricted free agent tender that would pay him approximately $2.7 million in 2012, will indeed sign on the dotted line and report to training camp this weekend, according to sources.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger confirmed Bouchette's report in an interview with Chuck Finder of CBS Sports, stating that he has spoken to Wallace and that the quarterback and his top wide receiver from last season are both eager to get to work.

“I talked to him today,” Roethlisberger said following Wednesday's afternoon practice at their South Side facility. “He's excited [about returning this weekend]. We're excited. He has been working out, not just on strength and conditioning, but working through the offense,” Roethlisberger said. “If he's put the work in that I think and [that] he's telling me he's doing, he'll be fine.”

For the 26-year-old Wallace, who had 72 catches for 1,193 yards and eight touchdowns in 2011, this move was long overdue. Sure, he wanted a long-term deal, but the instant that he failed to report for camp on July 25, talks were broken off by the Steelers, who have a policy of not negotiating with players who refuse to report.

Unfortunately for Wallace, the Steelers also have a policy against negotiating once the regular season begins, so in effect, all Wallace accomplished with his "holdout" was greatly shortening the window in which he can potentially hammer out a new deal with the club.

In Pittsburgh, it's the Steelers' way or the highway...just ask Santonio Holmes.

For the Steelers, this news means that the team's top two targets in the passing game a season ago will be back in the fold, as Pittsburgh also locked up wideout Antonio Brown, who racked up nearly 1,100 receiving yards of his own last year, to a $42.5 million contract extension.

You know, the one Wallace wanted.

The Steelers are apparently going to need all the help they can get in the passing game this year. Although the team recently activated starting running back Rashard Mendenhall from the PUP list the fifth-year tailback is still a number of weeks away from returning to the playing field after tearing his ACL last December.

With backup Isaac Redman also nursing a groin injury, the Steelers running game has became a glaring question mark as they near their Week 1 matchup with the Denver Broncos, which will place additional pressure on Roethlisberger and company to move the ball through the air.

Having Mike Wallace back in the fold will certainly help in that regard, and while it remains to be seen if it will be for just one season, the return to the playing field of No. 17 will undoubtedly be a sight for sore eyes in the Steel City.