ESPN reported today, unsurprisingly, that the Steelers received no offers for restricted free agent Mike Wallace. Steelers fans can now breathe a sigh of relief as Wallace will be staying with the team for the low cost of $2.7 million.
Many believed early on that the Steelers would choose to franchise Wallace, locking him in to a one year contract at $9.5 million, but the Steelers took a gamble by offering Wallace only a first-round tender. The gamble paid off in a big way, especially when you consider the Steelers’ current salary cap woes.
It’s still unclear whether Wallace will holdout or whether he’ll eventually sign his current tender. The receiver has expressed that he has no intention of signing his tender, but to accumulate the final year he needs to be an unrestricted free agent in 2013, he’ll need to sign at some point.
The Steelers get to go through this all once again next offseason as well. Then, Steelers receiver Antonio Brown will be a restricted free agent, and Pittsburgh’s salary situation won’t be much better by then than it is right now. The Steelers are almost certainly going to be dealing with the loss of Wallace at that point, and they won’t be able to afford the loss of another top, young receiver from a competitive standpoint.
All is not lost for Steelers fans, however. They have plenty of time to figure out how they can shuffle their team and restructure contracts to make room to hang on to Wallace and Brown down the road. It’d be impressive if they could hang on to both after this season, but the Steelers have been known to manufacture cap room where no one thought they could, so I’m not writing that scenario off just yet.