Adam Schefter of ESPN reported Thursday morning that the Pittsburgh Steelers will not use the franchise tag on restricted free agent Mike Wallace should they not get him signed to a new contract in the next few days. The news comes as no surprise as the Steelers do not have the cap room to accommodate a projected $9.4 plus million franchise tag amount.
The Steelers have been in talks with Wallace about trying to get a new deal done before the start of free agency and team president Art Rooney II said after the 2011 season ended that Wallace would be a priority to get resigned. It was announced on Wednesday that the contract of 14 year veteran Hines Ward would be terminated prior to March 5th and that move would mean that the Steelers have trimmed over $32 million off of their 2012 cap number since the 2011 season ended. Ralph Cindrich, the agent for linebacker James Farrior, reiterated again on Thursday that he did not like the chances of the Steelers retaining his client as well. Should Farrior indeed have his contract terminated, it would save another $2.825 million in cap money.
Should the Steelers not work out a deal with Wallace over the course of the next few days, the first round tender that they will place on Wallace will be roughly $2.742 million. Wallace would then be allowed to accept offer sheets from other teams once the free agency signing period begins and the Steelers will have the right of first refusal to match any offer made to Wallace or receive a first round draft as compensation from the team that signs him away. It should be reiterated that there is time to get a deal done with Wallace before having to use the first round tender.