With the passing of the franchise tag deadline on Monday, Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace will indeed be hitting the open market on March 12th. This will fully open up speculation on whether or not the talented receiver will return to Pittsburgh in 2013 and beyond.
Fellow star wide out Dwayne Bowe was inked to a new deal (5/$56M) on Monday, so many now consider Wallace to be the best available receiver in free agency. Several teams have been identified as potential landing spots for Wallace, including the Miami Dolphins and Cleveland Browns. Miami is considered the most likely to sign Wallace, if he doesn’t return to Pittsburgh.
His return to Pittsburgh has now become uncertain, though. It seems that Wallace is open to coming back, but he’s acknowledged that the NFL is or course a business, so he will consider all options.
The Steelers have to want Wallace back, but paying him will be another issue. The receiver turned down an offer last summer that was greater than five years and $55 million. So given that fact, plus the numerous contract adjustments made by the franchise recently, money (or lack thereof) could be a problem.
On top of that, the team re-signed cornerback William Gay to a three-year deal on Monday, which leads some to believe that Wallace is not a priority for the franchise.
Letting Wallace walk would be a huge mistake in my book. Players with his big play ability don’t come around all that often, and if the funds are available, the Steelers must do everything in their power to re-sign him. But if Wallace won’t play ball on his contract demands, Pittsburgh will be forced to make a business decision.