New Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley’s recent “X” receivers have had a great deal of success. In Dallas, Terrell Owens was Haley’s X wideout. In Arizona, it was Larry Fitzgerald. In Kansas City, Dwayne Bowe.
The Steelers want Mike Wallace to be Haley’s latest X receiver, but Wallace isn’t in camp. His training camp holdout became official Wednesday when Wallace didn’t report to team headquarters in a timely manner. Wallace wants a new contract, and is refusing to sign his one-year, $2.472 million tender. The Steelers are now saying they won’t negotiate with Wallace until he caves.
In the meantime, usual slot guy Emmanuel Sanders will practice in Wallace’s X receiver spot. And coach Mike Tomlin says the Steelers will focus on Sanders’ development until something gives with Wallace.
“What I’m going to do is work with Emmanuel Sanders because he’s here, and be excited about doing it,” Tomlin told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Should Wallace’s holdout last especially long, it will be interesting to see whether the Steelers begin giving Antonio Brown reps at the featured X receiver position. Brown played well enough down the stretch last year — statistically outproducing Wallace — that there is some feeling Brown might develop into Pittsburgh’s best receiver.
And the Steelers could send another message to Wallace by giving his position in the new offense to a player who did report to camp, and who possesses quite a bit of talent in his own right.