The Pittsburgh Steelers signed one of their top young wide receivers to a lucrative contract extension, but it was not the one everyone may have predicted.
The Steelers signed receiver Antonio Brown to a five year contract worth $42.5 million. That will keep Brown a proud member of the Steelers Nation through the 2017 season, making him a very happy camper. While the move promises to be a good sign for the receiving corps and Brown going forward, it did not exactly make everyone on the team quite as pleased.
Mike Wallace, who has not signed his one year franchise tag offer and has also not reported to training camp, continues to sit out while others get rewarded for showing up and working hard. Wallace has a one year deal worth $2.7 million on teh table, but he will not sign it and not report without a new contract.
But that is the whole rock and a hard place issue, as the Steelers insist they will not give Wallace anything until he reports to camp and joins his teammates.
See. Rock and a hard place. But Wallace is not in the driver’s seat when it comes to the negotiations. Especially not since the team already signed Brown and has no problem making him their No. 1 wide receiver entering the upcoming season. Wallace cannot be a happy camper while watching all of this at home.
Brown was expected to more or less be a special teams return man when he was drafted out of Central Michigan in 2010. But as last season progressed, Brown arguably turned into Pittsburgh’s top receiver. He became the first player in NFL history with at least 1,000 receiving yards and 1,000 return yards. He was every bit effective as was Wallace, especially when the big games rolled around toward the end of the season.
This sends a strong message to Wallace. The Steelers have been hesitant to give large paydays to receivers in the past, aside from Hines Ward. But with Brown cashing in, and with the Steelers almost always up against the salary cap, the options for Wallace going forward may be limited.
At this point, Brown can shine as the go-to guy for Ben Roethlisberger. Wallace can either show up and sign his one year deal and prove that he is still worthy of being paid as a No. 1 receiver for a new team next season, or he can sit out and see his offer go down every day he misses days.
Or, the Steelers may decide to trade Wallace during training camp, as Eric Schmidt suggests could become a possibility. Especially if Wallace is seeking a deal similar to that of Larry Fitzgerald or Calvin Johnson, which just is not going to happen.
Either way, things will get interesting the closer we get to the regular season, which is now just over five weeks away.