Four Scenarios For Mike Wallace

By Jeremy Hritz

Mike Wallace has been the primary focus of conversation related to the Pittsburgh Steelers this offseason. Unfortunately, as summer winds down, and the calendar inches closer to the Steelers first game in Denver, there has been no resolution achieved. Now, with the contract extension of Antonio Brown, and contract talks reportedly off of the table due to Wallace’s absence from training camp, the conclusion to this saga is shrouded in mystery more than ever.

Back in February in an interview with Adam Schein and Jim Miller, Wallace said that he wanted to remain in Pittsburgh, but that he was open to other options: “My heart is definitely in Pittsburgh. That’s where I would like to be at, but we all know that it’s a business and you have certain things that you have to handle. So if I have to go elsewhere, you know Pittsburgh will always be in my heart, but I have to do what I have to do.” You have to wonder, now, just how much his heart is in Pittsburgh after Brown not only signed a new contract, but also celebrated it with a press conference. As Dave Bryan put it on Twitter, “The press conference today, was no accident. This was like purposefully getting caught with a hot chick to make your ex jealous.”

There are currently four outcomes that can emerge from Wallace’s situation. They are:

            1) Wallace signs his tender, reports to camp, plays out the season, and enters free agency at the end of the year.

            2) Wallace waits until week 11, signs his tender, finishes out the season, and enters free agency.

            3) Wallace signs his tender, reports to camp, and works out a new contract with the Steelers.

            4) The Steelers decide to trade Wallace, he signs his tender, and then is shipped off to another team who is willing to break the bank.

Let’s take a brief look at each scenario and its likelihood.

Scenario #1: Wallace signs his tender, reports to camp, plays out the season, and enters free agency at the end of the season.

Prior to the Brown signing, this seemed to be a possibility, but would Wallace have a chip on his shoulder and feel slighted, playing for less money than his teammate? Additionally, signing his tender would not provide for any security in the event of a significant injury, and there would definitely be questions regarding Wallace’s attitude and whether or not his displeasure would prove detrimental to team chemistry. This scenario would be risky for both Wallace and the Steelers.

Scenario # 2: Wallace waits until week 11, signs his tender, finishes out the season, and enters free agency.

Very similar to the first scenario, but Wallace’s lengthy absence in this instance would create even greater hostility between Wallace and the Steelers. I believe that there is a greater likelihood for the Steelers to trade Wallace before they would let this scenario actualize.

Scenario # 3: Wallace signs his tender, reports to camp, and works out a new contract with the Steelers.

This is the ideal scenario for both Wallace and the Steelers, and one that management, coaches, teammates, and fans sincerely want. However, do the Steelers have the financial artillery to make a contract agreeable to Wallace happen? And, does Wallace still want to be a Steeler after the ceremonious extension of Brown?

Scenario # 4: The Steelers decide to trade Wallace, he signs his tender, and then is shipped off to another team who is willing to break the bank, despite Kevin Colbert saying the team wouldn\’t.

This is the current hot topic surrounding Wallace, ignited by the Brown extension, and intensified by Gerry Dulac and Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Bouchette stated Saturday morning, “The only good way out of this for both sides would be for the Steelers to trade Mike Wallace.” There are a few questions that arise when considering trading Wallace. Would it set a precedent that players can force the Steelers hand if they are unhappy with their contract status? Would the Steelers be able to find a suitor for Wallace that would be willing to offer worthy compensation?

The way the Wallace situation has been dragging on, the end may not be anywhere in view. Is it reasonable to believe that if the Steelers truly wanted to re-sign Wallace, they would do whatever it takes to get a contract done? The underlying message in all of this could be that the Steelers just don’t believe that Wallace is worth what he is asking, and they are unwilling to give it to him. Maybe in the end, the best possible solution is trading Wallace and acquiring either a high draft pick, or a player capable of coming to the Steelers and contributing. It isn’t out of the question considering what Wallace brings to his position.

If Wallace is traded, despite Colbert claiming that he wouldn\’t be, the Steelers will be just fine. Earlier in the year, I wrote about the success that the team has had with lesser receivers than what the Steelers have now. Ultimately, his absence will not make or break the 2012 season, and with the success that the Steelers have had in drafting receivers in the later rounds, all is not lost.

Normally, I would conclude an article on Wallace by saying that the end is near, but I have been without luck. Today, I’ll try another approach. The Wallace situation is going to drag on and on, and there is no end in sight.

Here’s to hoping it has the opposite effect.

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  • Dan1969

    Or Wallace signs his tender just before the season, tears an ACL in week one because he hasn’t practiced and is on IR for the year.

    I assume he’d still get credit for the year in this case…anybody know for sure?

  • Xi37

    Under scenario #1 Wallace would maximize his value in free agency next year with a strong performance, but I agree that it is far too risky for him to do so (he risks injury and underperfromance). He had a bad end to last season and needs to erase that with good play this year.

    In order for the Steelers to trade him, they would have to get blown away with an offer considering the “forcing the hand” implications and the fact that they get a 3rd round compensatory pick if he leaves next year regarless. No team is going to offer a 1st rounder for him and I think the Steelers value their tough reputation too much too capitulate and trade him for a 2nd rounder. Now if their offered a 2nd and a 3rd/4th rounder, then they should consider it.

  • DoctorNoah

    If Wallace were to try to hold out until Week 11, is there any way the Steelers could block him from getting his accrued season, I.e. not suiting him up or anything like that? I’m wondering what leverage they have at that point

  • WilliamSekinger

    The Wallace articles are getting to be a bit much. Maybe take a break until there is actually news?

  • Trading Wallace doesn’t seem like an acceptable solution to me. As you mentioned, trading Wallace would signal to other players that you can force a trade with the Steelers and still get your money.

    I think the Steelers will remain calm and resist the temptation to trade Wallace. Since I know as much about contracts and cap as a grade school kid knows physics, I was relieved to learn from Dave Bryan’s article that the Steelers could still offer Wallace a contract in the neighborhood of $50 million for 5 years and be cap friendly. I could’ve sworn I read this morning that Gerry Dulac reported that Wallace rejected a $50 million offer from the Steelers before they signed Brown. If that is true, then it means that Wallace does want more money than that and possibly the reports that he is looking for money in the range of Fitz is true.

    I think we won’t see Wallace traded so nor do I think he’s going to sign his tender and play out the year after sitting out until week 11. I think the likeliest scenarios are #3 (sign the tender, work out a deal) and #1 (I assume he has insurance – sign the tender and play out the season). To go the route of #2 would be extreme and be of little benefit to Wallace.

  • I don’t see any other way than him being traded. Steelers are not budging on the offer. He’s not budging on his desired amount. It clear that he’s about the money (not mad at that) but that’s contrary to the Steelers way. He has to sign the one year tender to report to camp. How can you sign it and not have a long term deal? He won’t do it without minimizing risk of injury. Once camp is over and Mike has not shown up, they will trade him.

  • kristopher Fine

    i want mike wallace to be with the steelers. if you think antonio brown is the better receiver, you’re crazy. if you think mike wallace is a one trick pony, you’re crazy. give me some names of other speedsters that have over 3000 yds, over 15ypc and 28 tds in their first 3 seasons. the people you just named are most likely HOFers. If you still think he is a one trick pony, who else does it better in the NFL today? it’s a trick that can’t be taught, can’t be coached, and can’t be REPLACED if he leaves. I know his stats weren’t that great in the latter half of the season, but AB’s were. Hmmmm…i wonder why? his “one trick” also forces him to be double teamed and have safeties play deep. I don’t know what wallace’s communication with the team is, but i do not i haven’t heard anything out of him in the mass media. he’s not saying anything. I really hope some sort of an agreement can be reached. AB’s contract sounds big, but it really isn’t and it can be restructured very soon. You can say what you want about this post, but i think i’m right.

  • Chris92021

    Yes he would. Being on IR does count toward the player’s pension. I still think Wallace will report…but instead of yesterday, I will say he reports right after the first preseason game against Philly. If Wallace did turn down a 50 million dollar deal as rumored, then he really is all about the money. If he indeed is all about the money, then he has no place in Pittsburgh after this season.

    You show good faith in the team, they will take care of you. Just ask Hines Ward in 2005, LaMarr Woodley, Lawrence Timmons, and Troy Polamalu last few seasons. I would even throw in Willie Colon as well. Holding out does not work anymore.

  • SteelersDepot

    Yes, he still would get his accrued season and that $2.74 would still count against the salary cap. At that time, Wallace would have severely diminished his market value as damaged goods and better hope he took out good insurance against injury.

  • Overall, yes AB is the better receiver and seems to have more upside. Obviously the Steelers believe the same since they locked up AB. Mike Wallace is a one trick pony and those words came from Tomlin. Its a heck of trick but speed is what he has that no one else does it and you can’t teach it. I remind you that Hines Ward was one of the slowest receivers yet look at his career. If Mike loses his speed, he’s probably the third or fourth receiver on this team. Why?

    His route running is the weakest. His run after the catch isn’t great. He can’t break tackles or juke anyone. Don’t ask him to read defenses and do much over the middle either. Red Zone he’s non-existent. Blocking is laughable. Once again, I think Wallace is very good for our team in what he does in stretching the defense. He is what he is. However, don’t try to make him out to be Fitz, Megatron or Johnson. That’s the money he appears to want and he is the one that’s crazy along with you if you believe he is entitled to that kind of money.

    Please don’t use HOF with Wallace….He may get there but he’s not even close. That my friend is what we call CRAZY.

  • No. If they try to do that, they will be hit by a grievance from the NFLPA

  • TJimmy

    Peter King says:

    I think the Mike Wallace story tells me one thing about the Pittsburgh Steelers: They compromise their salary and architecture principles for no one. I remember speaking with a person very close to the Steelers front office in the spring, and this person told me the Steelers valued receiver/returner Antonio Brown more than speed receiver Mike Wallace. “They’d rather pay Brown in 2013 than Wallace this year,” the person told me. “Mike Wallace had better not overplay his hand.”

    In the Steelers’ eyes, he did. So Pittsburgh, convinced it didn’t want to risk losing both men next year when Brown would be a restricted free agent, gave Brown the deal they’d offered Wallace, a six-year, $42.5 million extension. Not bad for a sixth-round pick in 2010 from Central Michigan. Now Wallace is in limbo, not having signed his franchise tender … and the Steelers saying they have no intention of trading him.

    Read more:

  • I think Wallace will report soon. There is no reason for him to sit out ten games and make nothing. If he does, that will indeed be foolish since he can just as easily get hurt in one of those six games for which he will be available.

  • walter mason

    I would also like to know if the Steelers can block his accrued season. And can the Steelers downgrade his tender?

  • This posting is not working properly right now.

  • Zarbor, how can you claim he is the better receiver based upon half a year’s production? AB has started less than 5 games in his career. Wallace’s best two years are better than any year that Brown put up. It is foolish at this point to suggest that AB is the better receiver. Brown may end up being a better receiver, but to suggest it at this point is a very optimistic projection. Also, did you know that Wallace had 493 YAC to Brown’s 342? But Wallace does not run after the catch well or break tackles. 150 yards is a pretty big difference.

    You are making up so much nonsense that it is just not funny. Look into the actual evidence. Brown is a good receiver, but he is no Wallace.

  • kristopher Fine

    i’m not saying wallace is going to be a HOF, i’m just saying players that put of those similar stats early in their career went on to be HOFers. I understand what you are saying about AB and HW, they aren’t as fast so they must be good route runners to get open. good route running trumps speed every time. i know this. however, wallace has speed and with that a different skill set and has shown what he can do with it. One day his speed will be gone and he’ll have to adjust, but he has it now and we should take advantage of that now. read defenses? i’ve never heard problems with him running wrong routes or adjusting pre snap. why would he go over the middle? that is what the other receivers are there for. i’ve seen him have some pretty good and shifty RAC. i never said he was fitz or megatron. i’d take him over johnson any day…too inconsistent and injured the last few seasons and has never had a season putting up double digit touchdowns. i’m not suggesting that he was going to be a HOFer. i’m just stating he has comparable stats to other great receivers after 3 years. also, i’m not suggesting he get paid like fitz or megatron, that’s crazy. nobody knows when his speed will be gone. coaches will get him better at that other stuff. maybe he would go over the middle more if he had financial security…we’ll see when he gets paid, hopefully by us.

  • Not sure how long you have been around the game but you stat guys are funny. I guess this is what we get from Fantasy Football. A bunch of guys who think stats tells the whole story. John Mitchell said, “Stats can say anything. You can cut stats up anyway you want to…..”

    Its funny, because AB was voted MVP by his teammates yet I’m making up nonsense. Really? Guess they don’t know actual evidence either. Once you get out of the stats cloud and look at the real evidence you will see much better. Not hating, just stating.

    Brown is a different kind of receiver than Wallace. He can do more and that’s what make him better. He’s a better route runner. He can go deep (not as good as Wallace), cross the middle, break tackles, and a better athlete than Wallace. His return skills prove his vision is better. Apart from speed, I don’t see anything Wallace can do better than Brown. Care to name some? His hands aren’t better. Brown is more physical and a better blocker. Wallace RAC is more because he’s already past the defender. Let him catch a ball across the middle or in traffic and its a different story.

    I like Wallace and think we are a much better team with him than without him. Whether you want to believe it or not, he is a one trick pony. It is a very very good trick but don’t get it twisted.

  • WPN

    Let me start by saying that I’m a big AB fan.. but i do believe that the reason he had such a break out year was that Wallace was the number 1 last year and the opponents were playing him as such.. and he was still able to put together a solid season..

  • In fact, Ravens cornerback Lardarius Webb said Brown was better than Wallace “in all aspects of the game,” and that was before Brown’s strong finish to the 2011 season.

    Not my words. I like both of them equally. Really wish Wallace was team guy first. I ain’t mad at him for going after the money. Just don’t think they should pay him much more than Brown.

  • Kick

    I bet Wallace is feeling that uneasy feeling in his gut. He knows he messed up but his pride wont allow him to move passed it.

  • zyzak

    Wallace’s best deal is to sign a multi year agreement with the Steelers for about 52 million over 6 years 25 guaranteed

  • I am backing it up with evidence. What are you using? Are you a scout? Have you broken down the game tape? No. How many broken tackles does Brown have? How many yards after being hit? How are you quantifying his blocking when the available tape shown on television rarely shows WR blocking?

    You guys who rely on little to no evidence are funny. You make foolish statements, but can’t back them up. Here is how I will back it up.

    Under traditional metrics Wallace has two years that are better than Brown’s best year as a receiver

    Under Football outsiders advanced metrics, Wallace was rated in the top-20, No. 1 and top-5 receiver. Brown has one year in which he was ranked in the top-20.

    KC Joyner’s advanced metrics have Wallace as an excellent receiver at every route depth, including short depth. That means that he is taking short routes and not being tackled immediately, otherwise his short routes ypc would be much lower.

    That the Steelers teammates voted him MVP is nice, but says nothing as to his actual value. I will stick to objective metrics, thank you.

    He is only a one trick pony to people who don’t understand football or proper evaluation of football players.

    Brown may be Wallace’s superior one day, but it is not today.

  • bleepitt43

    Everyone who’s just fine with Wallace leaving and AB taking his place has obviously been watching different games then me. Wallaces impact is huge to our whole offense and i hate to say Ab would hurt the worse if Wallace didnt sign. Ab is a great teammate, perfect professional and big play maker, he earned his contract but i think even he would give alot of credit to Wallace. I heard a NFL analyst the other day compare him to “THE FREAK” yeah the young Randy Moss. Not in the way he would jump over everyone and make crazy, insane catches but his speed, the 9 route. The respect teams have to show the guys speed helps everyone, and IS NOT REPLACEABLE!!!!!!!! No one’s bigger than the Steelers though hopefully he’ll learn that soon enough

  • Dude,

    We have all the evidence in the world. Its called film. Keep following your fantasy stats and metrics. I’m not mad at you. If that works for you cool. No beef with Steeler fans.

    Mike Tomlin is the one that called him a one trick pony so I don’t mind being put in with that guy who doesn’t understand football or proper evaluation. LOL!!

    Being voted MVP which I’m sure you know, is called Most VALUABLE Player. Not by fans but teammates. Guess they don’t understand football either. LOL!! Oh, I get it, its a different type of value. My bad.

    Hey even the Ratbird Raven said he was better. But that’s blasphemy to ever listen to the hated enemy. Well, I got nothing. You’re right. Sorry I ever questioned your football knowledge or KC Joyner’s. Can’t argue against those stats or a Scout.

    I won’t even tell you what I do since it can’t compare. LOL!!

  • I am willing to listen to reasonable argument, but you have to base your arguments on more than “lolz” and the opinions of other people. I would even be willing to agree that there are things that Brown does that are better than Wallace. I am not basing this on fantasy football. That you suggest that stats is all about fantasy football shows that you have not considered stats in more than a cursory manner. The advanced metrics are much more involved than that.

    I do not know why you think football players have some ability to analyze football more than nonfootball players. It has been shown in baseball, in particular, that baseball players as a group have no greater understanding of what makes a player better at baseball than others. In regard to football players, I imagine it is pretty similar. Is that why they keep voting Ray Lewis into the Pro Bowl?

    For every scout that looks at film and says Brown is better, there are those who say Wallace is better. I would suggest that more would say that Wallace is a better receiver. Film is useful but subjective. Adding in objective measures of performance is very important. However, it is simple to dismiss such things without refuting it, which is what you do. Usually, though that means you don’t really have anything to refute it.

    I don’t care what your job is. If your response to presentation of objective evidence is “I seen it with me own eyes” then your response means very little. I asked some questions that were not answered, so why should any additional time be wasted on it?