STEELERS FEAR OFFER SHEET FOR WALLACE?
According to team sources, the Pittsburgh Steelers prefer not to place the franchise tag (projected $9.4 million) on wide receiver Mike Wallace, an impending restricted free agent.
However, that could all change following the scouting combine this week where tampering is fluid among NFL executives and agents.
A league source confirms, the Steelers plan to meet with the representatives for Wallace at the scouting combine this week in Indianapolis as the two sides have yet to hold any substantive talks regarding a new deal.
Wallace is repped by Bus Cook.
The Steelers message to Wallace’s camp is expected to be — Â remain patient and that the team he intends to take care of him.
The big question mark is whether Wallace will wait around and seek offers as the 25 year old is seeking top-5 receiver money and shooting for over $20 million in guaranteed money.
Pittsburgh is prepared to pay Wallace when they can, but the team has serious concerns about dishing out top-5 money to Wallace and are unlikely to.
As dynamic as Wallace is, he is far from a complete receiver and still has a ways to go in his development, despite the big numbers in 2011. Where Wallace consistently still struggles is to get his body in front of balls in tight coverages and overall he isn’t very effective in traffic.
Wallace had 395 receiving yards in his final eight regular season games and had just 3 receptions (10 targets) for 26 yards in the Steelers 29-23 playoff loss to the Denver Broncos.
If the Steelers, as expected, place a first round tender on Wallace and not franchise him, it will open the opportunity for teams to pursue Wallace and possibly take advantage of the Steelers cap situation.
The Steelers who are $11.7 million over the salary cap, have heard all the rumblings that a team or two is prepared to make a big at Wallace.
Notable teams with huge amounts of cap space said to have interest in Wallace: Cincinnati Bengals ($60 million), San Francisco 49ers ($39.33 million) and New England Patriots ($20 million). The consensus is the Baltimore Ravens won’t make an offer for Wallace due to them having Torrey Smith already in place.
Cincinnati has two first round picks (17 and 21) and their 21st overall pick would be in play if they went after Wallace.
The San Francisco 49ers have the 30th overall pick, while the New England Patriots who are said to love Wallace, hold the 27th and 31st overall picks. The Patriots No. 31 pick would be in play for Wallace.
Many believe they are the team Pittsburgh should be worried about.Â Adam Schefter of ESPN pointed out this week that where the Steelers are vulnerable due to their cap situation is where a team can structure a contract for Wallace with a massive roster bonus in the $20 million range for this season that would count against the cap. Something the Steelers just wouldn’t be able to match.