Pittsburgh Steelers Gamble with Mike Wallace: Possible Last Season in the 'Burg?

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Pittsburgh Steelers Gamble with Mike Wallace: Possible Last Season in the 'Burg?
PITTSBURGH, PA - JANUARY 23: Mike Wallace #17 celebrates after Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers scored a second quarter touchdown against the New York Jets during the 2011 AFC Championship game at Heinz Field on January 23, 2011 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

"He's going to be a star; I bet you he's going to be a great player. He reminds me of John Stallworth." 

That's what my father said the first time we watched Mike Wallace dazzle Pittsburgh with his speed, size and hands. While it may not be the words used on ESPN, the sentiment still holds much truth:

No doubt, Mike Wallace is a game breaking receiver with the potential to be as reliable and electric as the former number 82. 

For many Steelers fans as myself, it was somewhat, but not terribly surprising when the higher ups announced that Troy Polamalu and Wallace would have to wait until next offseason to negotiate new deals. It is typically Steelers policy not to negotiate during the season and believe it or not, in just eight days, the 2011 season will kick off.

There are few worries about Troy. He is a playmaker, NFL cover man, fan favorite and many would argue the key cog in the Steelers defense, but what about Wallace?

The decision not to sign him to a long-term deal this offseason is a huge gamble that could lead to Wallace signing elsewhere next season.

Going into this offseason, several of the best wide receivers in the game did not have new contracts. Larry Fitzgerald's new deal pays out one of the best in the game $120 million over the next eight years. Rumors also have DeSean Jackson looking at a significant raise with his next deal.

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With the Steelers already investing a large chunk of the long-term salaries to LaMarr Woodley, Lawrence Timmons, Ben Reothlisberger, and presumably Troy. In addition, players like Hines Ward and Ike Taylor command a significant amount of money over the next two years and adding another big contract just doesn't seem likely given the Rooney Family's free agent history.

To add some more worry to those of us who invested in a number 17 jersey, Wallace seems to emulate a flashy receiver along the lines of Plaxico Burress or Antwan Randle El more so than the quieter Hines. As we see, the former all left for money rather than resign with the Steelers.

Essentially, unless Wallace's numbers drop off this season, it is more than likely that he will be one of the most sought after free agents in the entire NFL and teams other than the Steelers will have the salary cap space to make Wallace an offer he may not be able to refuse. 

Hopefully, the Wallace is the next coming of John Stallworth and decides to stick with the Steelers for the entirety of his promising career. 

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