The contract dispute between the Pittsburgh Steelers and WR Mike Wallace appears to have taken a turn for the worse. At this point, one has to wonder if indeed the Steelers will entertain trade offers for the disgruntled wide receiver. The Steelers placed the franchise tag on Wallace, but the receiver desires a long-term contract which the team does not inclined to do at this time.
Complicating matters at this point, Pittsburgh just extended the contract of WR Antonio Brown yesterday. Brown posted a career season in 2011, recording over 1,100 receiving yards and totaled over 2,000 all-purpose yards when his return yardage is factored in. Brown lands a five-year $42 million dollar deal. The signing of Brown, now greatly reduces the chance that Wallace will land the mega-deal he reportedly desires.
Wallace appears to be down to just three options at this point. Sign his tender offer and play for the $2.7 million dollars this season. Wallace can sit out a variety of regular season games this year, ala Vincent Jackson in 2010. Wallace will need to appear in six regular season games in order to become an unrestricted free agent after this season.
Wallace could also demand a trade at this point. He received zero interest when his tender offer would have required teams to surrender a first-round draft pick in order to acquire him during free agency. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazzette speculates this morning that the compensation for Wallace right now might be as low as a fourth-round pick.
Wallace is a talented wide receiver, but in order to execute a trade, there has to be two sides in order to consummate a deal. Wallace’s contract demands are going to be the big sticking point for teams. Reports this offseason suggested that Wallace was requesting Larry Fitzgerald type money, something which is unlikely.
So which teams might have an interest in Mike Wallace? The Cleveland Browns have issues at the receiver position, but that move will never happen. The Miami Dolphins could use some help and acquiring Wallace would provide Ryan Tannehill the receiver he needs to move his development along. The Jets are a possibility. The Seattle Seahawks are in serious need of a receiver, proving that with the recent signing of Antonio Bryant, a player which hasn’t been on the field since 2009.
Wallace joining the Carolina Panthers would create a nightmare matchup for opposing defenses lining up with Steve Smith. But the team which makes the most sense for Wallace is the St. Louis Rams. The Rams offensive roster is devoid of receivers and he would immediately upgrade the status of QB Sam Bradford. A trade with the Rams moves Wallace out of the AFC as well.
At this point, perhaps the only resolution to this situation is simply part ways with Wallace and move on. The contract extension of Antonio Brown signals that the Steelers are willing to do just that. The current situation has become very ugly and I see a trade as the only way out of the quagmire.