Former Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jerome Bettis was a guest Thursday morning on the NFL AM show on the NFL Network and he was asked if restricted free agent wide receiver Mike Wallace, who has yet to sign his one-year tender offer and report training camp, is playing hardball with the wrong team.
“I really think he is,” said Bettis. “I think when you go through the history of the Steelers, they do things a bit differently. And when you look at in relationship to their stars, they still stay one way. They\’re firm in their resolve and the way they do things. All you have to do is go back to Hines Ward.
“His situation, he had a holdout before his last contract. He wanted x-amount of dollars and they were one way. At the end of the day, they told Hines he needed to come into camp before they would consummate a deal. And Hines had to come in and he came in, and once he came in they were able to work the deal out.
“But the problem is, you know, Mike (Wallace) doesn\’t really understand the concept of how the Steelers work, and so he\’s got to kind of figure that out. Once he figures that out and comes in, I think they\’ll work a deal out.”
If anyone knows how the Steelers work, it would be Bettis, who spent 10 seasons in Pittsburgh before retiring after the 2005 season that culminated in a win against the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XL. While the situation with Hines Ward is a little different because Ward was currently under contract at the time, it is relative nonetheless.
Although not a member of the Steelers, Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson recently said in an interview on the same morning show that Wallace has nothing to gain moving forward based on his own recent contract experience prior to last season.
Wallace has had zero leverage for some time now and the Steelers insist that they will not trade him either, which would set a bad precedent in dealing with future players. Until Wallace reports and signs his tender, no negotiations will take place. While Wallace could choose to sit out until the final 6 weeks of the season so that he gets his accrued season towards unrestricted free agency, he faces the threat of being hit with the franchise tag next offseason.