A month ago, it looked like a good bet that the Steelers would lose restricted free agent receiver Mike Wallace. But with two weeks to go before the April 20 deadline for a team to sign a restricted free agent to an offer sheet, it’s appearing increasingly likely that Wallace will stay in Pittsburgh.
Adam Schefter noted on ESPN today that before free agency started, the 49ers and Patriots were the two teams seen as most likely to go after Wallace. However, the 49ers have added Mario Manningham and Randy Moss, the Patriots have added Brandon Lloyd, Donte Stallworth and Anthony Gonzalez, and both teams now appear set to stick with the receivers they have.
It’s still possible that some team we’re not aware of is planning to swoop in and sign Wallace to an offer sheet at the last minute, but if so that team is doing a great job of keeping it quiet. There are no reports of any teams planning to do so.
One thing this shows is how much NFL teams value their first-round draft picks. Wallace is a tremendous receiver, one of the best deep threats in the league, but even his talent isn’t enough to make many teams interested in shipping a first-round pick to the Steelers as compensation, which is what it would take to sign Wallace away.
It also may show that Wallace is asking for more than he’s worth. If the reports are true that he’s expressing a desire to make more money than Larry Fitzgerald, that could dissuade even the teams that would be perfectly happy to give up a first-round pick to acquire him.
Once the April 20 deadline passes, the Steelers don’t have to worry about losing Wallace, at least not this year. Ultimately, Wallace may end up playing the 2012 season for the one-year tender of $2.74 million. Which is a bargain for the Steelers.