420 Day – The Day Kevin Colbert Wins Restricted Free Agent Chicken Fight With Mike Wallace

420 day is here, and while I am pretty sure what that might mean to some of you, to me it means that Pittsburgh Steelers General Manager Kevin Colbert has won his restricted free agent chicken fight with wide receiver Mike Wallace. In fact Colbert has now won six of those fights this offseason as Doug Legursky, Ramon Foster, David Johnson, Keenan Lewis and Ryan Mundy were easy slam dunk wins.

The deadline for teams to sign restricted free agents to an offer sheet is 4 p.m. today and while some might think I am proclaiming a win for Colbert and the Steelers too early, the reality is that this chicken fight has been over for quite a while.

Colbert never wavered in regards to the Wallace restricted free agency situation, as he has stated all along that he and the Steelers have the final say on whether or not he stays in Pittsburgh should he have wound up getting an offer from another team. The speculation was heavy that teams like the New England Patriots, Cincinnati Bengals and the San Francisco 49ers would surely sign Wallace to a front loaded offer sheet that the Steelers would not be able to match because of salary cap room reasons, and that they would easily pay the price of a first round draft pick to do just that. Many emphatically stated that Wallace was as good as gone once free agency got underway.

Once the deadline passes later on today, the Steelers leverage with Wallace increases even more. Reports have surfaced, although not confirmed by the Wallace camp, that the Steelers fourth year receiver will not sign his tender, and is willing to not report to offseason workouts until a long term deal is reached. The Steelers will gladly sit and wait for Wallace to ultimately cave, and he will, as he stands to have his one-year restricted tender reduced from $2.742 million down to $577,500 if he does not sign it by June 15th. Wallace could just shrug his shoulders at that and continue his holdout in hopes of forcing the Steelers hand once training camp arrives, but he won\’t.

Both Colbert and team president Art Rooney II have stated since the 2011 season ended that signing Wallace to a long term deal was a priority. Wallace reportedly wants Larry Fitzgerald type money, although his camp has never confirmed that report either, and he is not going to get that from the Steelers. The Steelers want to reward him with a long term deal, but it will be one that is more palatable to them.

Over the course of the last few weeks it has been speculated that Wallace might be traded on draft day. That is very unlikely to happen unless a team knocks the Steelers socks off with an offer they can\’t refuse. Keep in mind that Wallace still wants that big contract as well, so if a team wanted him badly enough, they would have signed him to an offer sheet before the deadline. Why would they give up even more to get him on draft day? In addition, the Steelers would set a bad precedent for the future by trading a player that is demanding more money.

So what happens if Wallace signs his one-year tender and a new contract can\’t be reached prior to the start of the 2012 season? Plain and simple it means 2012 will be the last season Wallace plays in Pittsburgh. While the Steelers would have the franchise tag at their disposal next off-season to use on him, they won\’t. They merely will let him walk off into the free agency sunset much in the same the way they allowed Plaxico Burress to do so several years ago. They will move on with Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders, both of whom will be restricted free agents next offseason, and never look back. They will receive a compensatory draft pick for their loss of Wallace the following offseason, and it will likely equate closely to what they paid for him in the first place, a third round draft pick.

The ball, or the football I should say, will be in the court of Wallace at 4 p.m. eastern today. It is up to him as to whether or not he wants to remain a Steeler long term, like he has claimed that he wants to be. He has lost his game of chicken to Colbert now and stands to lose money if he does not sign that tender by the middle of June. Will he be a Steeler long term? Only he knows that answer.

Happy 420 day everyone! When you add those numbers together you get 6. That is the exact number of restricted free agents that Colbert did not lose to free agency in the chicken fights. In Colbert we trust!

Final score: Kevin Colbert 6 Mike Wallace 0

  • Cols714

    This was always the most likely scenario. Now we have him for this year and can possibly franchise him for next year.

    They won’t trade him. That would be dumb and the Steelers are not dumb.

  • SteelersDepot

    Ha. Franchise him? Don’t bet on it. That would be dumb and the Steelers are not dumb.

  • Jake

    Smart and correct analysis. Well done. Finally someone who understands the realities of the Wallace situation. Thank you!!

  • I agree that the chances of a trade are slim, but it’s still a possibility. There are teams at the top of the draft, who could use a WR like Wallace, but would never consider giving up a top 10 pick to secure his talents. If their is a run on WR’s in the first round of the draft, it wouldn’t shock me to see a team with a need at WR (Rams, Vikings), at least attempt to make a trade offer for Wallace. The Rams definitely wouldn’t give up their first rounder for Wallace, but if Blackmon, Floyd, Wright, and Hill are all gone by the end of round 1, they could be willing to give up the 33rd overall pick. Same scenario for the Vikings.

  • With all of the big contracts handed out to WR’s this off-season, the cost of the franchise tag next year, is going to be VERY expensive.

  • Jefferson St. Joe

    The indicator of whether or not the Steelers think they can sign him will be apparent in the draft. If they think he is done after this year, they will take a receiver in the first 2 rounds and at least 2 by the time it is over.

  • SteelerNationVA

    Franchise tag is average over the last 5 years, not this year alone.

  • Clintmartin

    Mike Adams National Holiday!! Lets roll one for him!! Lmao

  • It’s still going to jump up. 2007 was used in this years franchise tag calculations.The top five WR salaries in ’07, were all between $3.5M and $5.5M. Next off-season, those numbers will get kicked out, and replaced with top 5 salaries, ranging from $7M-$11M.

  • Jprankster2005

    I still say draft a good pass catching TE and a good WR either Fleener or Egnew at TE or Hill or Hilton at WR and send him to a team for 2 second round picks or a 2nd and 3rd we could do alot with the 2 extra picks…. And the drama would be over….. He’s not going to play 100 percent if he doesn’t get what he wants like Jackson did last yr. and I don’t think he’s going to settle for a contract because he wants 8 yrs. 110 min. the steelers I heard where offering in the range of 6 yr. around 50 to 60 million so I don’t see him dropping down to that much or them going up that high…….Nor do I see a agreement in the middle…….So hopefully he is sent packing in the next 6 days……

  • I don’t really think so. They don’t have great success with high round WRs as opposed to lower round guys.

  • Ro

    Ok Steeler nation lets be honest. The Steelers play next man up on offense versus paying a skill position. Ok Ben got 100mill 2 super bowls later!! We at some point need to retain our #1 guy AKA Plaxico,Santonio,Nate washington, I mean Enough is Enough

  • Cols714

    This is nuts. Wallace is a very good receiver. Why do so many Steelers fans want to trade him for draft picks?

    What’s with all the insinuation that he didn’t play 100%? How would you even know that?

    This is crazy. We have Wallace for 2012 at least, I think there is tons of value there even if they let him go after the season. But he’ll play this year, maybe even sign an extension. If not, they can let him go or franchise him

    But this talk of trading one of the best receivers and probably the #1 deep threat in the NFL for nothing but picks is absolutely nuts.

  • Cols714

    Huh? Santonio, Plaxico, Wallace (3rd round), Charles Johnson before that. I think Troy Edwards was the exception and they are very good at drafting WR all over the draft board.

  • Cols714

    That may be true. I was thinking for 2013 though in case he doesn’t sign a longer deal they could still keep him by franchising him.

  • Jprankster2005

    Tick tock the clock has struck 4 and Wallace is still here with no offer sheet…… Trade him and draft Hill or Hilton in Draft…… We could use the extra picks…… Who wants a guy that’s going to get paid almost 3 million and not give his all…… I wish they would trade him and draft one of those recivers but they probably won’t but imagine what we could do with the extra picks and get a reciver just as good and younger for cheaper…… And have 4 yrs. of that guy at a low wage…. Just seems logic to me……

  • Jprankster2005

    Yeah I believe that, If they wanted to give him 10 million a yr. they would of had a deal already….

  • Jprankster2005

    See that’s all his is a deep threat…… Once teams caught onto him the last half of the season was horrible for him…… If that’s the case there are a few very fast guys in the draft…… And never think that just because he’s good he can’t be replaced…..The steelers reward there guys with resonable contracts but they aren’t stupid…. So if he doesn’t want to sign what they offer by the draft I say trade him….. If he signs a contract then its all good and keep him… But that’s all I’m saying…..


    One Limas does not a trend make.

  • Cols714

    No way do you trade a guy like Wallace.

  • PoKey21

    The article says Wallace has the power to force the Steelers hand come training camp. That is if he is willing to gamble with 2.2 mil from his tender. He would be gambling that on getting a long term deal done before the season. You said he wont, but what if he did? If he does make that decision, albeit a dumb decision, would he more than likely be sitting out the entire year? The Steelers dont do deals during the season, and I dont think half a mil would be worth it to him if he already passed on the tender deal. Any thoughts anyone?

  • Eric87

    If the Steelers are offering him 6yrs around 50-60mil, as someone stated on here, Wallace will be taking a huge risk not to sign that. dave explained the situation before, but an injury or downseason could hurt his value in free agency next year.

  • Eric87

    If he doesnt sign the tender and sat out the whole season, then he would lose an accrued season, and he has 3. He needs 4 to become an unrestriced free agent next season. So he would have to sit out and just report for the last 6 games, but he would prob just make 550k compared to the 2.7mil if he signs before june 15th. He would be a moron if he did this.

  • Eric87

    Question Dave, not sure if this was asked before, but do you know what Wallace’s salaries were for each of his first 3 seasons?

  • Mancoljduf11

    does anyone actually think that when kevin colbert and art rooney said thay wanted wallace longterm that they would be able to pay him less than 8mil per year, they is no way they woulld be that dumb!!!

  • SteelersDepot

    2009 $310,000
    2010 $395,000
    2011 $525,000
    SB = $556,000

  • good, it would be a shame if I wasted all that money on my Wallace jersey for only one season!

  • K2theizzo

    The only two guys to have this Mike Wallace situation right was Dave and Dave. All the ESPN talking heads including Adam Shefter basically had Wallace in another teams uniform as soon as the 2011 season ended.

  • Dan

    Ha…I had forgotten the name Troy Edwards. The Jamain Stephens of the wide outs. 🙂

  • Intropy

    Depends entirely on what you get. Not for a bottom half of the first round or less. If someone offers 2 #1s and change then maybe. If the Jets want to go after another former Pittsburgh WR, I’d be happy to take Revis off their hands in exchange.

  • Intropy

    That’s a bit hasty of a judgment in my opinion. In that scenario he’s played another full season for Pittsburgh. He could suffer a career ending injury. Or he could have a break out season and establish himself as the clear #1 receiver in the league.

  • SteelersDepot

    … and if franchised, he would SURELY hold out. Not happening. Mark me down for that.

  • Dave

    Gee, the Steelers knew what they were doing when they offered him the $2..7 mil tender and all the chicken littles who thought he was gone if we didn’t franchise him were wrong….who could have guessed that……(eye roll)

  • Eric87

    Well his tender is what like between 5 times what he made at that highest amount. I think that is a pretty decent pay raise.

  • Eric87

    Man if you think they can’t afford Wallace, no way in hell tey would be able to afford Revis. Revis already wants a new deal with Jets going into 3rd year of 4. Ridiculous, play out your contract

  • Intropy

    According to Bleecher report he gets 7.5 in 2012 and 6.0 in 2013. The Steelers can swing that for Revis. Yeah it’s only two years, but Wallace isn’t exactly inked long term either.

    It’s a moot point since that trade isn’t on the table.

  • Eric87

    yea that would be a great price to retain Revis, but I think he is starting to demand that he wants a pay increase. I would love to have Revis.

  • Kingmagyar

    The Steelers have absolutely nothing to do with Wallace still being a Steeler. They are getting way too much credit. If Wallace and his agent were willing to accept a 8 million dollar a year deal from another team and it was front loaded with say a 10 mil roster bonus the Steelers would not have matched it and he would be gone. Wallace is the reason Wallace is still a Steeler. Kolbert just got lucky that Wallace demanded so much from other teams. As for the other guys not gong anywhere. No one wanted them.

  • Ro

    Wow how funny it is that everyone is redy `to send Wallace Packin due to get a lil money albeit he want ask or get Fitzgerald $ fro us but a decent amount.Didnt hear yall the last few years when our O sputtered and out the blue heres Wallace freakin 70yd bomb. B real guys we cant just keep cutting ties with everyone. #SteelerNation

  • Ro

    Totally bogus. He will get what we offer him and stay the beast he is. You all are crazy if u think we shouldn’t retain the fastest WR in the league. Crazy!!!

  • TO

    IMO Colbert blew this. It’s not about what he did, it’s about what he DIDN”T DO. He could have been aggressive about signing Wallace early in FA, and likely could have gotten him for 6-7 mil per year, but he sat on his hands and did NOTHING. The market then priced top notch WRs at nearly double that.
    Sure, now they get him cheap for season, but that’s it, unless he has a crummy season – but who is hoping for that? Then the PS are back to the same problem with Brown next year, but their backs are more likely to be against the wall. Especially if Wallace gets signed away and no WRs emerge.

  • Foley718

    Again I really don’t understand the fascination with Mike Wallace. He has great speed but that is it, he runs terrible routes and has the worst hands out of all the WR. In two years when he has lost his speed the Steelers will have a slow no route running non catching money pit. Work on a long term deal for Antonio Brown, as a RFA, there will be several teams willing to give up a 1st round pick for him. Brown is a way more accomplished receiver now than Wallace will ever be. Brown is a playmaker Wallace is not, that’s why u don’t see Wallace returning punts…….

  • TsarPepe

    One thing I couldn’t understand is: why are you so sure they won’t put the franchise tag on Wallace next season? Even if that comes to 8mln (it won’t), it is still a good bargain, in my book. Geez, Asante Samuel is making 11mln a year!