On the same day that the Steelers signed Antonio Brown to a long term deal, the team confirmed that they would not be giving Mike Wallace a long term contract, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Earlier this week, the two sides broke talks off completely as the Steelers refused to negotiate with him until he reported to camp, which he says he won’t do until he gets his new deal.
With Wallace not cooperating, the Steelers turned their focus to Brown, who would have been a restricted free agent next offseason and made it nearly impossible under the cap for them to sign Wallace. Brown’s 5 year, 42.5 million dollar contract was much more reasonable than the contract that Wallace was holding out for and since they probably would only be able to keep one going forward, they probably made the right move.
Now the pressure is on Wallace to sign his tender, which will pay him 2.742 million dollars this season. If he doesn’t they may opt to trade Wallace and go forward with Antonio Brown and the promising young Emmanuel Sanders going forward. If he does, they reserve the right to franchise him next offseason. This situation reminds me of the Brandon Marshall situation a few offseasons ago.
Marshall was a restricted free agent who could have been had for a 1st round pick. No one was willing to pay that price, but the Dolphins were willing to give up a pair of 2nd round picks so they essentially did the NFL’s version of a sign and trade with the Broncos, signed Marshall long term and sent a pair of 2nd round picks to Denver. The Steelers should be able to at least get that for Wallace, even though no one was willing to sacrifice a 1st rounder for him before the draft.
Making that move would allow them to get cheaper and younger for the future and to move on from a malcontent wide receiver who is demanding more money than he’s worth. Receiver needy teams who could make sense for Wallace in a trade include St. Louis, Seattle, Carolina, Minnesota, Indianapolis, Buffalo, and the Jets. Cleveland, Baltimore, and Cincinnati all need receiver help as well, but it’s unlikely that the Steelers would agree to trade Wallace in the division.
Regardless of whether or not he gets traded, Wallace’s fantasy value could take a major hit this season. If he reports, it’ll likely be after a long holdout, which could led to him getting out of shape and will cost him valuable time learning the playbook, while other receivers like Brown and Sanders are gaining greater mastery of Todd Haley’s new system.
If he gets traded, he’ll be traded to a team likely with an inferior quarterback and receivers have a poor track record when switching teams, especially this close to the season. It takes time to learn a playbook and get adjusted to a quarterback. I’d let him be someone else’s problem in fantasy leagues, especially at his current ADP in the early 4th round. Brown and Sanders, meanwhile, are currently underrated at their current ADPs of the late 5th round and the 14th round respectively.