In case you didn’t know this, free agency in the NFL starts on Tuesday and one if it’s most prized catches is currently a Pittsburgh Steeler named Mike Wallace. Tonight at midnight, teams can start contacting players who are free agents and can agree to terms of a deal even before the official signing day.
I fully expect Wallace to be in place with a new team before that date and if I had to wager a guess I’d say he’ll land in either Miami or Carolina. It’s never easy to see guys leave your team whether it be in a trade or in free agency but I’m not sure anyone in recent memory has been as polarizing as Wallace has been.
Talk to a dozen fans of the Steelers and you’ll likely get several who think the team should move heaven and Earth to keep him while others would be glad to give him a ride to wherever he is going. Such is the nature of sports in the 21st century.
What the Steelers will be hard-pressed to replace with Wallace is his speed. There are few guys in the NFL as fast as he is and he is a guy that defensive coordinators do have to game plan for each week. I don’t know that they stayed awake in doing so however because with Wallace, it was about not letting him beat you deep and not much else.
That is now gone from the Steelers’ offense as I sit here today. Who knows what the draft will bring?
The biggest issue with Wallace and a contract in my mind has always been about value. What are you really getting when you sign Mike Wallace to a big contract? For six or seven million dollars a year, I think you’re getting a quality receiver who can be a game-changer with his speed. For 10 to 12 million a year you’re over-paying.
I always tried to argue that Wallace was more than a ‘one-trick pony,’ but his lack of consistency and inability to be a receiver in traffic or make the ‘tough catch’ severely held him back in my opinion from ever being a guy worth the money he allegedly wants.
It’s very possible that if Wallace goes to a team with a vertical passing attack that he could build upon some impressive numbers from here in Pittsburgh. The problem is that Wallace is not going to become the ‘all-around’ receiver that we have always wanted him to be.
He isn’t going to suddenly start fighting for balls or playing defender when necessary. He isn’t going to stop pouting when the ball doesn’t come his way and I don’t see him becoming a devastating blocker down-field either.
Whether it be Miami or Carolina or whoever, someone is going to severely overpay for Mike Wallace which is exactly what he and his agent have been planning for since this time last year. I wish Mike Wallace the best in the remainder of his NFL career and at the same time I feel bad for all the Steelers’ fans who will be selling their Mike Wallace jerseys on ebay next week.
Marc Uhlmann writes for and co-owns www.steelcityblitz.com. Follow him on Twitter @steeldad and follow the website at @SCBlitz. He can be heard Mondays on Trib-Live Radio at 4pm ET talking Steelers.