Another day of repackaged news by ESPN on Sunday, as Adam Schefter reported earlier today that Pittsburgh Steelers restricted free agent wide receiver Mike Wallace has told some within the Steelers organization that he does not plan to sign his first-round tender “until he has to”. Now this is according to sources mind you and we have yet to hear any of this straight from Wallace or his agent, Bus Cook. Just because we have not heard direct quotes from either does not make it any less true, but one person that should be able to shed more light on all of the “he said, she said” type reports is Steelers General Manager Kevin Colbert, and you can bet he will be asked about the current situation on Monday during his scheduled pre draft press conference.
Colbert and team President Art Rooney II have stated all offseason that it is their intentions to get Wallace signed to a long term deal, but it is apparent that the two sides are still very far away from agreeing on the numbers. The Steelers of course placed a first round tender on Wallace before the start of free agency of $2.74 million and that, along with the rumored contract demands of Wallace, was enough to prevent teams from signing him to an offer sheet that would have required a first round draft pick as compensation should the Steelers had decided not to match it. Wallace, who is entering his fourth year, is rumored to want Larry Fitzgerald type money, an amount he surely is not going to get from the Steelers.
The key quote in the Sunday report by Schefter is, “until he has to”, and that date figures to be June 15th, when the Steelers can reduce his tender amount down to $577,500 with a written notice prior to doing so. Colbert should be able to clarify that course of action on Monday, if he is indeed asked by the media about it. Should that indeed be the plan of action by the Steelers, and Wallace decides not to sign his tender by mid June, we very well could be headed for a Wallace hold out, but that is all speculative up until that date, and that course of action of reducing his tender offer takes place. As I have mentioned a few times now, Wallace has no real leverage other than a hold out right now, which is not advisable. The Steelers brass do not take kindly to tough negotiating tactics such as hold outs and Wallace should expect nothing but a cold shoulder until he reports to training camp, if indeed all of these reports are true.
Now even though the restricted free agent signing period has come and gone, it is not surprising that Wallace still hasn\’t signed his tender yet. Perhaps the last hope he and his agent have is that the Steelers will trade him on draft day to team willing to give him a huge deal and surrender multiple picks to the Steelers for his rights. That too is unlikely to happen, as I mentioned previously, as it sets a bad precedent by the Steelers in regards to dealing with future players not happy with their contracts. Stranger things have happened, but I would be shocked if Wallace was traded next weekend.
I still find it interesting that we have yet to hear from Wallace or Cook throughout this ordeal other than a tweet by Wallace on Twitter that stated that we shouldn\’t believe everything we read. This was right after the report by Matt Barrows that stated the San Francisco 49ers perhaps had interest in signing Wallace to an offer sheet early on in free agency until they heard Wallace wanted Fitzgerald type money. It should be noted that the 49ers never confirmed that report either. Until we hear what Colbert says on Monday in regards to the Wallace situation, all of these reports should be regarded as unconfirmed.
Here are the truths that way know up until this point. Wallace was tendered at a first round level. Wallace did not receive an offer sheet during the signing period. Wallace has yet to sign his tender. We need to stick to these facts and not judge anyone until more truths are revealed by the Wallace camp or Colbert himself.