Prior to the draft, there was a lot of talk and speculation about where Mike Wallace would play next season. Wallace was a restricted free agent of the Pittsburgh Steelers, which meant any team could offer him an offer sheet and if he signed it and the Steelers didn’t match, Wallace could be had for just a mere 1st round pick. The Steelers were in cap trouble, which is why they didn’t franchise him in the first place, and if another team made an offer big enough, the Steelers wouldn’t be able to match. However, that didn’t happen.
Still, it doesn’t look like this Mike Wallace restricted free agent thing is fully resolved. Wallace, one of the league’s best young receivers and coming off back-to-back 1000 yard seasons at age 25, feels like he’s be underpaid at the 2.742 million dollar restricted free agent tender level and still wants a long term deal. Earlier this offseason, he said he wanted Larry Fitzgerald money, which is roughly 120 million over 8 years. That desire certainly didn’t go anywhere when Calvin Johnson’s deal actually surpassed Fitzgerald’s deal this offseason. Wallace clearly sees himself as a player on that level, even though he’s probably a tier below.
That being said, the Steelers probably don’t have the cap space to do that even if they wanted to, which I doubt they do because it’s not their style, so Wallace will probably have to accept that he’ll be playing this season under the restricted free agent tender. The Steelers have all the leverage here and they can legally slash the tender to 577K if he doesn’t sign it by June 15th, if they choose to do so, though they said they wouldn’t. Either way, Wallace will probably have to wait until next offseason to get his big contract and since the Steelers could be in cap hell once again next offseason, he might have to get it elsewhere.