Pittsburgh Steelers General Manager Kevin Colbert talked to the media today and answered questions concerning restricted free agent wide receiver Mike Wallace, who failed to report to camp by the 4:00 p.m. deadline on Wednesday and sign his restricted tender.
Colbert told the media that indeed all offers to Wallace are now off the table and that the receiver will need to report and sign his tender before any new negotiations are to take place. Colbert admitted that the ball is indeed in Wallace\’s court right now and that the team is currently moving forward now with the other 89 players on the training camp roster. “Every negotiation is unique, you put best foot forward and hope to reach an agreement, and it takes two parties to reach an agreement,” Colbert said. “Obviously we\’re not at that stage and we\’ve chosen to not progress with negotiations at this point.”
He added, “That\’s been the Steelers policy forever.”
Colbert indicated that this is the first time that they have dealt with a situation like this as Wallace is restricted player with an extended tender as normally it is players under contract or draft picks that this takes place with. His status though still doesn\’t change the way the Steelers will negotiate with him. Colbert did point at that if he Wallace was a franchised player that had a deadline attached to him in might be different, but in the case of Wallace being a restricted free agent, there is no drop-dead date.
Colbert indicated that Omar Khan, the teams\’ chief contract negotiator, has talked to Bus Cook, Wallace\’s agent, recently and that he, himself, has talked to both Cook and Wallace. He did not indicate though how recent ago those talks took place. Colbert also told the media that there was no indication of what the next move that Wallace might make will be.
In addition to his other comments, Colbert reiterated that their decision to not drop the tender amount of Wallace back in mid June was never in their plans because they think Wallace is a good player and worthy of the full tender amount. He added that by not dropping it that it gives both sides a launching point for a new deal in addition.
In summation, the Steelers have handled Wallace exactly how we expected them to. They refuse to be held hostage by a hold out type tactic as it sets a bad precedent for future negotiations with players and their agents. This has been the “Steeler way” forever. Wallace being a restricted free agent didn\’t change any of that.
On Wednesday both cornerback Keenan Lewis, a long-time childhood friend of Wallace, and wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders both expressed optimism that Wallace could be reporting soon. That of course was their thoughts though and they mean absolutely nothing until Wallace shows up and signs his tender.
So before Wallace gets a chance to play football again in Pittsburgh, he can now say that he has gotten to play a game of hardball, Pittsburgh style. A game that he has no chance to win.