I was asked by a reader today via email if the Pittsburgh Steelers will fine restricted free agent wide receiver Mike Wallace, should he not sign his tender and report to training camp later this month. The short answer is, no, and that is because they can\’t.
Although Wallace was tendered as a restricted free agent, he is still not under contract and thus not under any obligation to the club. Only players that are under contract are subject to fines of up to $30,000 a day. Now should Wallace sign his tender, then he is considered under contract and then he could be fined should he get disgruntled with contract negotiations and walk out of camp.
On the flip side, the tender offered to Wallace does currently count against the Steelers 2012 salary cap and Rule of 51 number right now. Consider it a place holder if you will.
Should Wallace decide to holdout for the entire preseason, the Steelers would have the option of placing Wallace on the “Did Not Report List”, which would free up a spot on the 53 man roster as well as the $2.74 million in cap space that the one-year restricted tender would have cost them. That option I only list as a hypothetical one, because I firmly believe it will not get that far.
John Clayton of ESPN reported this past weekend that the Steelers are still optimistic of getting a long-term deal done with Wallace, while Len Pasquarelli of the Sports Xchange reported nine days ago that there\’s been very little negotiating and no progress made on a new deal. Adam Schefter, also of ESPN, reported back in late part of April that Wallace had told some within the organization that he doesn’t plan to accept the one-year, $2.7 million tender offer “until he has to.”
Wallace of course needs to be on the Steelers 53 man roster for at least 6 games this season to get credit for an accrued season, which would then allow him to become an unrestricted free agent at seasons\’ end should no long-term deal be reached. Read what you will into all of the reports thus far, but this figures to be finally coming to head soon.
Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor has gone as far as to predict that Wallace will be in training camp at some point, but that he just doesn\’t know exactly when that will be. There are just 9 more days left until the team reports to training camp in Latrobe, so we will get our first answer to the many offseason questions surrounding Wallace very soon.