There have been rumors that Pittsburgh will place a franchise tag on wide-receiver Mike Wallace. He has become the team’s number one threat on offense and they need to reward him for his abilities. They need to take every action to keep Wallace for the long term. It has also been rumored that other teams may look at signing Wallace if the Steelers do not act on it. This simply cannot happen.
Imagine the Steelers last season without the presence of Mike Wallace. Sure, Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown each had great seasons and are turning into fine young receivers themselves, but without Wallace’s deep threat ability the defense would be able to have more defenders playing up tight. Defenses must keep a safety back at all times when they are playing against Wallace, or they will surely get burnt one or more times during the game.
The franchise tag was implemented by the NFL as tool for teams to keep a player who is scheduled to become a free-agent. Last year, the likes of Peyton Manning, Michael Vick, and Haloti Ngata were designated by their respective teams as the franchise player. Some teams use the tag as insurance to keep that player and hope to resign them the following off-season. This could perhaps be the strategy the Steelers are thinking; Pittsburgh is about $11 million over the salary cap, and the tag would allow them to keep him for at least one more season and free up room to sign him next year.
The Hiring of Todd Haley as offensive coordinator could mean that the offense will start to run the ball more, which translates into not needing the wide receivers to be as involved as they were in the past few seasons. Still, the speed of Wallace cannot be undervalued.
Pittsburgh must do all they can to make sure Mike Wallace is around for years to come. It would be nice if they sign him to a long-term deal, but that is probably wishful thinking due to their salary cap situation.
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