Last week Steelers G.M. Kevin Colbert said the team is committed to keeping soon-to-be free agent wide receiver Mike Wallace, and the franchise tag was still an option. But now that teams are free to use the franchise tag, the Steelers have reportedly decided against it.
Instead, the Steelers will use the first-round restricted free agent tender, not the franchise tag, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports.
It’s easy to see why the Steelers wouldn’t use the franchise tag: They’re cap-strapped as it is, and the franchise tag costs about $9.4 million. The first-round restricted free agent tender only costs about $2.7 million.
But it’s also easy to see why this makes it more likely that Wallace could leave: A team that signs him away will only have to give the Steelers one first-round pick, whereas if they had used the franchise tender the Steelers would have received two first-round picks from a team that signed him.
And so we’ll soon see whether some team thinks it’s worth spending a first-round draft choice and a lot of money on one of the best deep threats in the league. And if some team does, we’ll see whether the Steelers decide that they simply can’t afford a big contract for Wallace, and that they’ll be content with an extra first-round pick.