After extending Antonio Brown earlier today, news came out that the Steelers would not be giving Mike Wallace an extension and that he would either have to play out the season on his restricted tender, roughly 2.7 million, or be traded. Some speculated that Wallace, if he signs his tender, would be franchised next offseason. However, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Ed Bouchette, there is “no way” that would happen.
I have to agree with the latter. The Steelers almost definitely couldn’t afford to pay Wallace the nearly 10 million guaranteed that the wide receiver franchise tag would be worth next offseason, especially not after extending Brown. The Steelers are backed up against the cap this offseason and figure to be backed up against the cap again next offseason, after restructuring several contracts this offseason just to get under the cap. They also don’t “need” Wallace, with two young, talented receivers in Brown and Emmanuel Sanders on the roster.
The Steelers have probably known all along that they would only be able to keep one of their two wide receivers long term and rather than give Wallace the 60 million over 5 years he wants, they gave Brown 42.5 million over 5 years. That seems like a better value. Plus, the “Steeler Way” doesn’t tolerate players putting themselves above the team like this (just ask Santonio Holmes). Wallace rejected a more than reasonable 5 year, 50 million dollar deal from the Steelers earlier this week.
Look for them to entertain trade offers in the coming days for Wallace. A pair of second rounders or a 1st rounder should do the trick and there could be a half dozen or more teams interested in the still just 26-year-old Wallace, including teams that might consider themselves rebuilding, because he is still young. Obvious landing spots would include the Colts, Vikings, Panthers, Seahawks, and Bills, all of whom have the cap space to get this deal done. The Rams also make a lot of sense, but they’d have to backload any deal to Wallace as they don’t have a lot of cap space.