The Mike Wallace saga is now over and once again Pittsburgh Steelers General Manager Kevin Colbert showed why he is the best in the business.
Throughout the entire process Colbert stayed true to his word. He handled the situation with class and dignity and never disrespected Wallace or his agent Bus Cook throughout the entire process.
Colbert has said since the very beginning that they wanted Wallace back in Pittsburgh. He knew the risk of only placing a first round tender on the restricted free agent as opposed to the franchise tag and made it clear that by doing so, the Steelers still had the final say as to whether or not Wallace signed elsewhere, as he would have had the opportunity to match an offer sheet should the receiver had received one.
In the middle of June Colbert made it clear that he would not be lowering the tender offer to Wallace even though the league rules stated he could if he wanted to. Colbert maintained that Wallace deserves that money and knew that it would not help the situation out by taking that course of action. It was a good faith action and one that you would expect from the Steelers organization.
Despite the persistent rumors that stated Wallace wanted Larry Fitzgerald type money, Colbert never gave them any lip service whatsoever and he never talked about money at all throughout the entire process. The only news he really ever gave in the way of contract negotiation talk was to say that he had talked to the representatives of Wallace way back at the NFL combine, and he left it at that.
The Steelers have had a long standing tradition of cutting off contract negotiations with players that fail to report to training camp and Colbert kept that tradition in tact. He only would say that all offers were off the table until Wallace reported and signed his tender and that Wallace knew that ahead of time.
When the rumors started flying that the Steelers were open to trading Wallace, Colbert slammed that final escape route shut by firmly stating that Wallace would not be traded.
At that point Wallace only had two choices left. He could continue to stay away until the final six weeks of the season to earn his accrued year towards free agency or he could report and sign his tender. On Tuesday Wallace chose the latter of the two.
If you look at the entire situation with Wallace as a long running game of chicken, Colbert never showed sweat on his brow and he never flinched throughout the game. He calmly kept his foot on the accelerator and never let off of it. He knew that Wallace would flinch, and he did.
Colbert has maintained all along that the ultimate goal is to get Wallace signed to a long-term deal. Whether or not that happens is up to Wallace now and he will have to accept a contract on whatever terms the Steelers have set aside for him. While they won\’t break the bank for him, they will offer what they deem is fair. With just over a week to go to get the deal done, there is still plenty of time. Colbert still has the threat of the franchise tag next year at his discretion and the Wallace camp is certainly well aware of that. Don\’t be surprised if this deal gets done in the 11th hour, because Colbert will hold his ground from here on out.