Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace is a restricted free agent who comes with a first round tender attached to any team who presents him with an offer. While that means that a team would have to first come up with a price acceptable to Wallace as well as surrendering their first round pick, it still remains somewhat surprising that no team has made a play for the big play receiver.
Many of the marquee free agents have already signed new deals with new teams. Peyton Manning inked a record setting deal with the Denver Broncos. Vincent Jackson cashed in with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Mario Williams struck it rich with the Buffalo Bills. Wallace remains the biggest name on the open market, yet there has been little to no activity regarding his future.
Why would that be the case?
Two main reasons present themselves to Wallace’s situation.
Teams have until April 20 to sign Wallace to an offer sheet. The Steelers would have the right to match any contract offer that Wallace receives. With Pittsburgh being cash strapped, it may be unlikely that they could match an offer if another team is willing to offer him a fortune.
Unfortunately, it is a fortune which Wallace is seeking. Reportedly, Wallace is looking for a deal similar to the one the Arizona Cardinals gave to Larry Fitzgerald. While Wallace is an extraordinary talent, there is very little chance of him landing a deal like that of Fitzgerald.
Still, if a team who is well below the salary cap, such as the Cincinnati Bengals, Seattle Seahawks, Jacksonville Jaguars or Cleveland Browns wants to offer Wallace a huge deal, they could very well end up adding a huge threat to their offense.
Of course, the biggest caveat for a team such as the Browns, Jaguars or Seahawks is that the would also have to surrender their first round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. The Browns (No. 4), Jaguars (No. 7) and Seahawks (No. 12) posses high draft picks that they may not wish to part with, even if it means signing Wallace. They may prefer drafting a wide receiver such as Justin Blackmon, if he is still available.
But where the Bengals have the No. 17 and No. 21 pick, they could more than justify parting with that pick while prying away a divisional rivals’ top target. A team such as the Denver Broncos (No. 25), Houston Texans (No. 26), Baltimore Ravens (No. 29) or San Francisco 49ers (No. 30) should also consider signing Wallace. He will have a much greater impact on a team than any player they could draft at this point.
Either way, expect things to remain relatively quiet, at least for the next couple of weeks.