Explaining Why Mike Wallace Is An \”Unreliable Receiver\” In 2012

By Cian Fahey

Many comments on a few of my articles for this site, and on Twitter, so far have questioned why I constantly call Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace “unreliable” when I refer to him for the upcoming season. The argument which is generally sent my way is that Wallace cannot holdout and will be forced to play for his tender.

That is not true.

Wallace will be forced to suit up and be on the field under his current tender because holding out is counterproductive under the rules of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. Wallace will be forced to be on the field if he doesn\’t want to add another year to his wait for unrestricted free agency, but he won\’t be forced to fight for the football in the air, protect the ball when being tackled or expose his body in any possible way.

Much like DeSean Jackson did last year, Wallace could easily come with a me-first attitude this year and not play anywhere near to his potential.

But Wallace has to make an effort so he can get a big deal on the open market next year.

No. No he doesn\’t.

Wallace has three seasons of football which prove he is one of the best burners in the league as well as being one of the most dangerous young weapons in the league. At 25 years of age, Wallace will be entering the prime of his career ahead of this year and into the future. Other front offices will understand if he decides to protect his health opposed to playing for minimal money.

They won\’t like it, but they will understand that he gave great effort for three previous seasons.

Considering that Wallace believes he should be paid the same kind of money as Larry Fitzgerald and Calvin Johnson, he obviously feels that he has already proven his quality on the field. Why would he feel like he needs to prove himself and earn a new deal in a contract year when he already thinks he deserves a $100 million contract?

Fans often forget that those who actually wear the jersey of their teams on Sundays aren\’t always in love with the franchise, or sometimes even the sport, the way we are. Most professional athletes understand that football is a business and subsequently view it that way.

Very few players carry the attitude of a Hines Ward or Aaron Smith and the truth is that they shouldn\’t because nobody would care about Wallace if his name was Limas Sweed. There is no such thing as loyalty in professional sports. Fans only love the players who carry value to their team and players only love the franchises who love/value them.

Why should we presume that Wallace will put the Steelers\’ fortunes before anything else? The Steelers\’ fans are fortunate that their franchise puts a focus on character when acquiring players but that doesn\’t mean every player is going to be throwing out hometown discounts or giving their all in every game if they feel that they are being underpaid.

Fans shouldn\’t need to be reminded of the names of Plaxico Burress or Santonio Holmes who were me-first players who eventually moved on.

It may sound like I\’m slating Wallace or judging him if he does indeed feel this way, and I can\’t guarantee that he does but you can\’t guarantee that he doesn\’t, but in fact I have no problem with Wallace taking care of himself first. On any given play his career can end and he wouldn\’t have earned anywhere near enough to set himself up for the rest of his life.

In fact, if I was in his position, I would probably do exactly what Jackson did last year and put my health first. As fans, we see that as selfish, but Wallace has a family to look after. I don\’t know if he has kids or a wife but he likely plans to. Why shouldn\’t he want to set up his family with the best possible conditions? Why shouldn\’t he treat this “game” as a business considering it is his actual profession.

How many of you would be 100 percent committed to your work if you felt like you were being severely underpaid?

I have no clue what Wallace will do this season, but he has already reportedly signaled his intentions to hold out as long as he has to, so I will continue to refer to him as an unreliable receiver for this season as the Steelers should prepare for the worst in every situation.

You can follow Cian on Twitter at @Cianaf


    Why is it always a receiver? I hope Haley hasn’t drawn up any plays that send Wallace over the middle. That being said, I can understand why he feels he deserves more cash.

  • Intropy

    First, playing a half-hearted unproductive season would absolutely hurt his market value. No matter what he’s accomplished previously, if he plays poorly in 2013 then the most recent thing on his resume will be poor play on top of which the attitude itself is liable to reduce his value in the eyes of GMs around the league. He could not afford to dog it in a contract year.

    Second, I haven’t seen anything from Wallace to indicate that he has that kind of personality. As you’ve said the NFL is a bussiness, and he’s currently trying to get the best deal for himself that he can. I can’t fault him there. But when it comes to practicing, preparing, and playing, I haven’t behavior that suggests he’s anything but serious about his profession.

  • Tpowell057

    I think pro players are babys and need to shut up about money that’s why they went to college to have something to fall back on. I am a nurse and i feel we as an occupation are under paid appreciated and under valued, but i go to work everyday knowing i make a difference because i am helping someone. One slip and my career could be over. Just saying this trade him for a second or third round pick and get him off this team if he can’t be a team player.

  • Jason White

    He can easily be set for life with a deal thats fair for him and the Steelers organization. I get its a business and he needs to look out for his best interests but his life will be set with a 50 million dollar deal. Doesn’t have to be 100 million plus.

  • Grw1960

    ! understand it is a business and that it could end in the very next play.
    I also understand not many people in life get to the point where Wallace now is and none of us know what the steelers have offered him.
    But I believe the the Steelers would have given Wallace a fair contract offer for his services. Wallace may squeak out a little more by holding out till the deadline.
    But there is fair pay and there is greed.
    And if I were the Steelers and he held out till the 10th game. Wallace would only get the minimum or he would get waived if it did not affect getting a 3d round draft pick for him in 2013.

  • Rubem Dornas

    Bye bye Wallace!

    Just hope Brown and Sanders are not like him.

    With Fleener acting exclusively as a receiver TE, we could count on Brown, Sanders, Fleener, Cotchery and Miller. There’s also other options on practice squad like Lyons.

    If Wallace continues with this me-first attitude I think McNutt can be another good option coming from later rounds at the draft.

  • steepens

    If I were underpaid at work I sure as he!l wouldn’t work that hard. But what I would do is send my resume out with my overpriced demands. And when no other employer came calling… I’d eat some humble pie and sign my tender that makes me a multi-millionaire and report to work and do my job. Then i’d work my hindside off trying to improve myself so that the next year I’d be worth my asking price. This article doesn’t lay out the entire story, just the parts that justify it’s own position. He will report, he will play hard, and he will get his payday… next year.

  • Grmcq

    ditto, saved me the trouble to reply, thanks

  • Jprankster2005

    U pointed out the exact reason they should trade him if the offer is right.. If it’s better than a 3rd round pick….. Hopefully 2 2nd rounds or a 2nd and 3rd…… Hes going to screw around this yr. And as steelers fans we want nothing less than a super bowl every yr. so go out and get a guy that will give a 100 percent in possibly a Hill in the draft and say bye to Wallace….. end of story move one… I agree with this article 100 percent…..

  • Shannon Stephenson

    How much money do we really need? Even if its 6M a year for 5 years he should take home 3M plus a year and be comfortable the rest of his life unless he is just plain ignorant with it.

  • Man532

    Set for life is not the issue, getting your maximum value as a player and winning is what it is all about. Too many athletes are injured never get a chance to experience the big pay day that Mike Wallace has earned. The Steelers saw this coming and should have acted to sooner to get him under contract. However, please check out my plus and minuses on Wallace.

    * Defenders must play a safety over the top, which opens up the field for everyone else
    * Very adept at end around and defense must respect that speed
    * Has good hands, not great hands

    Improvement Opportunities:
    * Fighting for the football, the San Franciso game comes to mind when Carlos Rodgers stepped in front of him
    * Coming back to the football and using his leaping abilities to go get it like Frits
    * Doesn’t play special teams (not going to either)
    * Block/attempt to block is way below average

    Bottom line, Mike is worth Desean Jackson money, nothing above at the expense of weakening other weapons and then having a Antonio Brown seeking the same money. Stick to your guns Steelers, there is speed a plenty in this draft at all sizes that can take the cap off a defense. Stephen Hill 4.36 in the forty at 6’4″ 215 lbs.

    Mike, we love you but no one is above the “S” in Steelers. Go run fast for someone else and we will take the money spread the love to everyone else.

    Steelers Great WR’s who also had to leave (Swan, Stallworth, Hines, Plex, Holmes – this should be his prime example, etc…)

  • Jason White

    Well I’d agree with you cause I’d certainly be happy with that kind of money. But unfortunately players in most cases make way more than they’d ever need. But i think he’s worth Desean Jackson type money which I believe the Steelers would find a way to make work and they’d be happy with it. It’s just sad that Wallace isnt.

  • Wdmason

    I take pride in my work no matter what I am paid. I only know one way, the right way. But maybe thats just me and maybe Im old fashion.

  • Jason White

    I think if they feel they won’t get a deal done with him try to trade him for a couple picks more specifically an early 2nd round pick and hopefully Stephen Hill is available then.

  • PoKey21

    Why cant both parties just wrap these negotiations up? Wallace needs to tp sign a 5 year 55 million dollar deal, that can be pushed to 65 for escalators that the steelers put in. Guarantee him 20 million dollars, and 5 years of job security. Make the signing bonus higher to keep his cap hit down the first couple seasons. Does anyone know, or heard any rumors, about the offer the steelers gave him? I think 20 mil and job security in a place he is familiar with would be hard to turn down.Especially when hes looking at 2 mil this year, and who knows what after. Also There is probably only 10 or 15 QBs in the league that can utilize Wallaces talents the way Ben can.

  • DavidS

    DeSean Jackson acted like DeSean Jackson past season and he got a DeSean Jackson contract. What should Wallace expect by acting the same way?
    You ought to find a better example than the guy’s contract who is speculated to not be good enough for Mike Wallace. What more should he expect by acting the same way?

  • Nolrog

    If Wallace is seen as me first or lack of caring it will only hurt his value going into UFA. If he sees himself at Larry Fitzgerald dollars then he needs to put up Fitzgerald numbers.

    Keep in mind his decline in the 2nd half of last year. Sure, I would argue that much of that could be attributed to the emergence of Brown and the lack of a line to give Ben time to throw. However, it could also be argued that defenses paid more attention to him and he wasn’t able to over come that.

    So there is the potential for a poor 2012 (because of attitude) and a decline in the 2nd half of 2011. Neither add up to big dollars.

    He needs to show up, work hard and perform and he’ll get rewarded handsomly for that.

  • Jackson_8616

    Desean returns punts and kicks. Also, he goes over the middle and takes a hit (did in 2010). Wallace has yet to show the ability to make the tough catch.

  • Jake

    Cian – You’re a knucklehead about this. If he has a bad attitude this year, he will dramatically affect his market value for next year. Also, barring injury, the Steelers will have 4 very good receivers next year. If Wallace has a bad attitude, he can be No. 4 of the 4 and the Steelers can just send him long alot to clear out the area underneath for Brown/Cotchery/Sanders. Meanwhile while he is being underpaid by NFL WR standards, he’s still making $2.7 MM – far more than his original contract. Quit trying to stir something up here which doesn’t exist – he’ll come in, he’ll play hard, and he’ll get a great contract next year – not a Larry Fitzgerald contract but one of the top 5-10 WR contracts in the league.

  • eric

    It didn’t affect Vincent Jackson’s pay… He pouted till week 10 and got a huge payday. Only fans and a couple NFL Franchises care about that stuff.

  • TsarPepe

    Excellent article!

  • Steelman

    It’s amazing to me how quickly you all are turning on Mike because he wants what he’s worth. What if you went in for your annual review and the boss said ‘hey, you’ve been great to us the past three years and the company wouldn’t be where it is without you, but we’re not giving you a raise’. You would be out looking for another job that appreciates your talents. So don’t sit and judge when you would feel the same way. For the past 3 years you all were talking about how good Mike was and now all of a sudden you’re turning on him. Talk about ungrateful.

  • Jefferson St. Joe

    It may be that Wallace asked SF for Fitzgerald type money because he didn’t want to play there, but that type of contract would make it worth his while to leave. No one knows what numbers are being discussed with the Steelers.

    Steelers can’t cave on this one. Brown is the better receiver, in my opinion.

  • Thom

    How can he not be set for life. These athletes r so greedy if I made even the 2 million which he’ll prob make this year I’d be set for life u don’t need 50 to a 100 mill to be set for life, people with that kind of money; I wont even say.

  • JRinVa

    Wouldn’t have a problem with him getting what he is worth. Unfortunately he isn’t worth what he wants.