Report: No More Poison Pills Per New CBA & How It Affects Mike Wallace

The threat of the Pittsburgh Steelers losing restricted free agent Mike Wallace to another team because of a poison pill included in an offer sheet seems to be no more as Mike Florio reports today that he has been informed that the ability of one team to sign another player to an offer sheet that includes language that would qualify as a poison pill to the team that possible could lose the free agent is no more. The most famous example of this of course was several years ago with Vikings guard Steve Hutchinson as Florio points out in the post.

I assume Florio is referring to Article 9 Section 3 (j) of the CBA which states:

Disputed Offer Sheet. In the event of any dispute regarding whether a term in an Offer Sheet is or is not a Principal Term that must be matched, including any dispute regarding whether a term is an impermissible poison pill designed to discourage or prohibit the Prior Club from exercising a Right of First Refusal, the dispute shall be presented to the Impartial Arbitrator for expedited resolution under Section 4 below. The Impartial Arbitrator shall identify all of the terms that would have to be matched by the Prior Club, and the Prior Club shall have two days after such decision in which to exercise its Right of First Refusal.

With the poison pill no longer a threat, the Steelers now have to just ask themselves if a first round restricted tender is enough to put a hold on Wallace until a long term deal can be worked out. Steelers GM Kevin Colbert said on Monday that he had not ruled out placing the franchise tag on Wallace, which even if it was the non-exclusive variety, would mean that it would cost another team two first round picks and a lucrative contract to sign Wallace away. The franchise tag also carries with it a projected $9.4 million price tag and the Steelers would need to be able to fit that amount in their Rule of 51 salary cap number until a new deal is reached that would lower the 2012 cap hit on Wallace.

The remaining risk involved in exposing Wallace to free agency with just a first round restrictive tender, estimated to be about $2.75 million, is that the Steelers might not be able to match an offer sheet made by another team if they value him much higher than the Steelers do. The Steelers of course would still receive a first round draft pick as compensation, but by all accounts they would rather have Wallace stay instead. Art Rooney II said in his season recap press conference that getting Wallace signed to a new deal would be a priority for the Steelers. Placing the franchise tag on Wallace would almost certainly drive other teams away because of the two first round draft picks it would cost to sign him away. It would be the first time in team history that they would use the franchise tag on a restricted free agent however.

The good news out of all of this is that the league has gotten rid of the poison pill clauses.

  • Stan

    I honestly don’t think there’s any question that you put the first round tender on Wallace and see how things work out. Here’s the breakdown for the two possibilities, assuming there’s no extension.

    1. First round tender
    1a. Wallace accepts tender, you get him at 2.75M for next year, a huge bargain, no further cuts necessary.
    1b. Wallace signs with another team, you have 2.75M in salary cap space which will just about pay for your new first round pick. Keep in mind that first round picks are worth more now than before because of the new CBA. Sanders and Brown are your starting wideouts, which is not ideal but it doesn’t look so bad when you consider the additional talent from your extra first rounder.

    2. Franchise tag
    You get Wallace at $9M which is not a bargain at all because its exactly what he’s worth. You cut Mendenhall, Hampton, Ward and Foote/ Farrior outright, which you wouldn’t have done otherwise.

  • Joe D

    Just make the cuts….
    Kemo (too much to pay for backup who is terrible)

  • In the Steelers world a market value free agent deal is a poison pill.

    I like the 2.75 or a first round pick option. I’m pretty confident we lose him in that case though. Maybe with him so likely to go in that scenario they break their pattern and look into trade options instead of being passive and seeing what happens

    As for losing Hampton, Foote/Farrior and Ward to fit Williams? I’ll take Williams if that is really the choice but I think those guys are gone anyway.

    We could do a Williams deal that gives him 10 per but only counts a little over 4 for the first two years, when the cap is low, so the player drops wouldn’t have to be too high as long as we get the deal done without a tag first.

  • Dave

    Are you trying to say that Ike Taylor, Lawrence Timmons, LaMarr Woodley, Troy Polamalu etc all signed below market deals?

  • Joe D

    Your numbers don’t make sense in your scenario 1…

    And I would rather unload Hampton, Ward, Farrior to keep Wallace!!!
    Those 3 will be backups for 2012!!!!

  • Jackson_8616

    Your exclamation points really drive your point home.
    First of all, No. Farrior would not be a back up in 2012. A backup to whom, exactly? Sly still needs a little bit of seasoning before we dub him a starter. If I remember correctly, it took Timmons 3 years to crack the starting lineup. That would put Sly starting in 2013. Hampton may not be ready for the season, I would imagine they would cut him, sign him to a low deal, and IR him. Either that, or he steps away. Ward, sadly, will most likely be released and (hopefully) signed as a veteran backup for the minimum, a savings of 2.9 mill, I think.

    In this scenario, we keep Wallace, Ward, and Farrior for about the salary that cutting Hampton would provide. That is assuming, of course, that Wallace signs a backloaded deal worth about 4-5 mill for the first year.

  • Taylor did. Timmons and Troy are overpaid. Woodley is right on.

  • Who exactly will Hampton be backing up? Most NT picks don’t look ready to start year 1.

  • Smittyflash24

    Wow…..this going to be a whacky off season,steelersnation why is this so difficult man do the right thing,make the cuts….WARD,FOOTE,FARRIOR,KEMO,STARKS,GAY,SMITH,HAMPTON…the time has come! can’t believe that we are that much over the cap….over paying,everyone should re-structor their contracts(everyoneTROY,HARRISON and TIMMONS should do his again) and as for W.Colon enough said…thank you Mr.Rooney for stepping in and over,do not let Tomblin play buddy ball with this off season…..p.s. do not over pay M.Wallace!