To no surprise, the Steelers and receiver Mike Wallace remain at impasse.
Len Pasquarelli of the Sports Xchange reports that “there has been no progress, and, in fact, very little negotiation” between the team and the player, who is a restricted free agent.
There’s no reason for any progress to be made, because there’s no specific date before the launch of camp on which the two sides would move toward their bottom-line positions. Unlike franchise players, who have a July 16 deadline for signing multi-year deals with their current teams, the Steelers and Wallace can work out a long-term contract at any time before the Tuesday after Week 10 of the regular season. And if Wallace signs his one-year RFA tender before that in-season deadline, a multi-year deal can be done at any time thereafter.
Of course, not signing the one-year offer represents Wallace’s primary hammer for a long-term deal. But the Steelers have yet to show an inclination to give Wallace the kind of money he wants.
Wallace reportedly will sign the tender when he “has to.” The question remains when he believes he has to. Technically, he can hold out of training camp and the preseason and still get the full $2.77 million for 2012. But if he does that, he’ll be woefully unprepared to function in a new offense led by former Chiefs coach Todd Haley.
But once Wallace signs the one-year tender, his leverage for a multi-year contract disappears.
And while the Steelers didn’t use their own hammer on June 15, the day on which they could have cut his offer by more than $2 million, don’t look for the Steelers to blink. They know Wallace will want to have a big year as he approaches unrestricted free agency or the franchise tender. If they sit tight, he’ll likely eventually take the money early enough before the September 9 trip to Denver to ensure that he won’t be lost in Antonio Brown’s dust.
Then again, some would say that’s already happened.