The bewitching hour has come and gone as the Pittsburgh Steelers have boarded their plane and left for Denver with no news that wide receiver Mike Wallace has received a long-term deal.
While there is a very tiny, tiny, tiny chance that they just are keeping it hush, it wouldn\’t make sense for them to do so and in all likelihood Wallace will now have to play out his fourth season under his restrictive tender of $2.74 million. The team is not normally one to do contracts once the season starts, and in this case, once the team boards the plane to travel to their opener.
Last year we saw safety Troy Polamalu sign his extension in the Pittsburgh airport prior to the team leaving for their opener Baltimore, but at the time of this post, no such similar thing appears to have taken took place with Wallace.
Baring it just not being reported yet, which I highly doubt at this point, Wallace will be an unrestricted free agent following the 2012 season and the Steelers must decide whether or not to let him walk or place the franchise tag on him that will be in the neighborhood of $10 million.
I have pointed out in a previous post that it is not out of the question that that could happen from a cap standpoint, especially if James Harrison was to become a cap causality and a few other restructures that I believe will happen take place. For now, that is a long time off to waste much time or keystrokes on.
Team President Art Rooney II and General Manager Kevin Colbert stated all offseason that getting Wallace signed to a long-term deal was a priority, but as it looks right now, they appeared to fall short of that goal.
Not knowing exactly what Wallace was wanting contract wise, especially in the guaranteed money department, combined with not knowing what the Steelers were offering, makes the whole situation hard to handicap as to why the deal never got done.
While several reports suggested that Wallace at first wanted Larry Fitzgerald type money and that he turned down a 5-year deal in the range of $50 million, the Wallace camp never confirmed or denied any of these reports. The reader of this post, you, will have to read into what ever reports that you want to believe and go from there. That being said, keep in mind that Wallace never was quoted as saying what he was looking for dollar wise. The reports are the reports and stand unconfirmed right now in my mind.
The Steelers signing of Antonio Brown to an extension early on in camp had nothing to do with Wallace, outside of just getting the deal done early to perhaps throw it in his face. He was going to get extended regardless of what ultimately happened with Wallace and his contract only moved the 2012 salary cap needle $1.7 million after the smoke had cleared.
I believed all along that a new deal would get done with Wallace right up until the team left for Denver today. Did Wallace hurt his chances by holding out all of training camp instead of maybe just the first week? That certainly could be the case, but there were some reports that suggested negotiations had reopened once he reported and signed his tender. Once again, reports are just that, reports.
If indeed Wallace turned down a five-year deal worth around $50 million, it might wind up being the best or worst decision of his football career. He now runs the risk of being franchised next year, or worse, suffering a severe knee injury this season. Should he avoid the franchise tag, which is certainly possible, and has a decent season, he will get paid huge money by another team early in the 2013 free agency period.
Should the Steelers decide to franchise him, he runs the risk of making only $12.74 million total over two seasons. I say only, but you get my drift. That decision is now way off in the future as a whole season now awaits us before that decision will be made.
After the game against Denver it will be interesting to hear the comments made by both Colbert and Wallace as to why a deal was never completed. Interesting, yes, but none of that will matter though in the grand scheme of things, because when the plane left Pittsburgh today, a newly signed contract appears to have missed the flight. That\’s all that really matters at this point.