By Christopher DiMarino
There has been a lot of emotions and opinions swirling around the Mike Wallace holdout. News keeps coming out seemingly by the second and you can get an analyst opinion on the situation on almost any website. Ed Bouchette has written an article stating that Wallace is in charge of his actions, meaning that it was his choice not to show up at camp. Kevin Colbert has said that he won\’t continue contract talks until Wallace comes to camp and signs his restricted free agent tender. Mike Tomlin has been quoted saying that not reporting to camp is unfortunate for Wallace. To add to the controversy, the signing of Antonio Brown has served as the launching ground for trade rumors, notably backed by both Gerry Dulac. So to sum it up, there is a lot of news surrounding Wallace this past week, but nothing happened with him.
The key to remember is this is not a new issue. Many foresaw that this would be a problem early in the year. Signing a superstar player to a big money contract is a huge deal on a team as conscious of the cap as the Steelers. Wallace is doing his part to get the money that he feels he deserves. His friends on the team have been talking to the media and have been downplaying the impact of this hold out and stating that Wallace might report in a few days. Is Wallace a mastermind pulling the strings to effectively squeeze every last cent out of the Steelers or is he just 25 year old kid whose career has been going faster than the speed of light since being drafted in the 3rd round back in 2009? He comes into a big-time team like the Steelers, has a few strong seasons and now he\’s faced with a big contract dispute. Somehow, I doubt that this has all been a part of his master plan.
There is a lot of pressure on a player to sign lucrative contracts. Your contract is dependent on your potential and successes, which is tied to your league wide respect. So would the Steelers signing Wallace for cheap be considered a steal or disrespectful? The same can be said about overpaying. The difference is that the Steelers are professionals in the purest sense, but bulldogs when it comes to contracts and the cap. Omar Khan did not garner a reputation as one of the best in the business by being a pushover.
Everyone seems to have starkly contrasting opinions about this situation. Some say that Wallace earned his contract and the Steelers should just pay him. Others believe that high level greed is holding Wallace from signing for a respectable amount. This situation can easily be compared to Drew Brees, who is an important member of the New Orleans Saints, but fought over 1 million dollars in a 20 million dollar a year contract. Wallace is an important member of this team and this contract dispute is not about respect, it\’s a process. It would be great if this process could be sped up, but unfortunately it\’s very delicate, and this is just the way it is.
So my overall message to anyone following this situation is to relax and let it play out. While there is a new playbook that Wallace will have to learn, he has visited and picked it up. As Dave pointed out, the added reps could actually have more value for a player like Emmanuel Sanders, who is trying to develop some confidence and consistency. Dave has also covered how a trade is unlikely, so the three options for Wallace seem to be, a hold out for the first 10 games of the season, a signed tender and play out the year or a signed tender followed by a signed new contract. This situation will sort itself out whether we complain or monitor it constantly. You just have to trust that the Steelers are aware of how to best handle contract situations, even when they involve young stars.
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