Should restricted free agent wide receiver Mike Wallace spend his Saturday elsewhere today, it will mark four days that he has missed of Pittsburgh Steelers training camp. Sound the alarms and get the torches.
Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette tweeted last night, “Do not be surprised if Steelers trade Mike Wallace during training camp. They no longer believe they can sign him long term.”
While I like reading the work of Dulac, I just really do not see this happening. Could a sign and trade deal take place between now and the start of the season? Sure it could, but what would the Steelers get for Wallace, and what kind of long term ramifications would it cause by letting a player basically force the Steelers hand? We already know that teams think Wallace is not worthy of a first round draft pick. That was proven during free agency. Would a team give up a second for him? Sure it is possible, but remember, that team would need to work out a long-term deal with him first. He would then have to sign his tender and then be traded, because remember, he is not currently under contract right now.
Here is another scenario. Say Wallace holds out until the final six games of the regular season so that he can get his accrued season and then is allowed to walk off into the sunset via free agency just as Plaxico Burress did so many years ago. The Steelers at the very least would receive a third or fourth round compensatory draft pick that way and they would show that they are not afraid to let a player sit instead of giving into his demands in any way whatsoever.
As I pointed out after Antonio Brown was given his new 5 year, $42.5 million extension on Friday, the Steelers have plenty of cap space to get a reasonable deal done with Wallace still. Four days into training camp and the media has the fan base in a frenzy. You should have seen all of the panic and trade scenarios being thrown around on Twitter last night and it is continuing on today. I still buy into the theory that getting a deal done with Brown at some point prior to the start of the regular season was always on the checklist this offseason. Why couldn\’t it have been? It is not like Brown broke the bank either. He received just over $9 million guaranteed and moved the 2012 salary cap needle only $1.7 million. The Steelers did not give money earmarked for Wallace to Brown. That\’s crazy talk.
To reiterate, yes, the Steelers could very well wind up trading Wallace before it\’s all said and done, but I for one would be pretty surprised if it happened. Someone will surely throw out Santonio Holmes as an example, but that was an entirely different set of circumstances. Holmes was under contract and entering his final year of it when he was dealt. He also had a four game suspension hanging over his head in addition. The Steelers knew they would not be able to sign him long-term, nor did they probably want to. Notice the big distraction that Holmes has become in New York? The Steelers saw all of that coming. The Steelers got what they could for Holmes and moved along. Wallace has done nothing wrong since arriving in Pittsburgh and the Steelers have indicated all along that they want to get him signed to a long-term deal. The ball remains in the court of Wallace and I think the two sides can still come to terms. Four missed days of training camp will not change that.