Mike Wallace can be yours for a first-round pick


The Steelers made official what was widely expected today, declining to place the franchise tag on restricted free agent wide receiver Mike Wallace.

That means that any team can sign Wallace to an offer sheet, and if the cap-strapped Steelers don’t match the offer, Wallace will cost only one first-round draft pick. Acquiring a 25-year-old who’s arguably the best deep threat in the NFL for a first-round draft pick isn’t a bad deal at all, especially if there’s a playoff contender that believes a big-play receiver is just the thing they need to win the Super Bowl.

For the Steelers, matching a lucrative offer to Wallace would be tough. Although they’ve made several moves in the last week to free up salary cap space, they’re still not in great cap shape. And they’re in a tough spot because they know they’ll face the same situation again next year when receiver Antonio Brown becomes a restricted free agent. Brown was voted the Steelers’ MVP in 2011, and the Steelers would like to keep him beyond 2012, the final year of his current contract. If they tie up a lot of money and cap space in a new contract for Wallace this year, it may be harder to find the money and cap space to devote to Brown next year.

If Wallace ultimately just signs his one-year tender offer as a restricted free agent, he’ll come at a very affordable price of $2.7 million. But in that scenario, Wallace and Brown would both be free agents at this time next year. (Steelers receiver Emmanuel Sanders becomes a restricted free agent next year, too.)

Add it all up, and the Steelers may decide that matching an offer for Wallace isn’t in the cards, and that they’ll be glad to take a first-round draft pick from the team that signs him. At the moment, however, Steelers G.M. Kevin Colbert is stressing that it’s up to the Steelers.

“He could get offer from another team, but ultimately we get to make the decision on Mike,” Colbert said on Steelers.com today.

Of course, the Steelers already made one decision, not to franchise Wallace. But Colbert said that with the Steelers’ cap situation, the franchise tag is just not a realistic option.

“We don’t have the cap room of having the luxury of using the franchise tag this season,” Colbert said.

If he does get an offer from another team, which team would it be? One of the most intriguing possibilities is New England. The Patriots’ first-round pick is a low one (No. 31 overall), so they may not think it’s a lot to give up to give Tom Brady a speedy receiver like Wallace. And the Patriots have two first-round picks (they acquired the Saints’ first-rounder in a trade last year), so they could still be players on draft day if they give their own first-round pick away. Plus, the Patriots wouldn’t mind taking one of the best offensive players away from one of their biggest AFC rivals.

There’s also been chatter in San Francisco that the 49ers would love to add Wallace to their receiving corps. With the 30th pick in the first round of the draft, the 49ers are another team that could decide that Wallace will be far more productive than any rookie they could add this year.

In any event, every team with a need at receiver has to be thinking about signing Wallace to an offer sheet. And the Steelers have to be thinking that their top receiver in 2011 may be gone in 2012.

97 responses to “Mike Wallace can be yours for a first-round pick

  1. If the Pats use their 31st pick on Wallace and then get someone like Wayne or Lloyd to pair up with Wallace, Gronk, Hernandez, and Welker, I’m scared. And I’m a Dolphins fan, so I wouldn’t look forward to playing that twice a year.

  2. Wow the Steelers are in full-on rebuilding mode. Soon they will envy the Pirates.

  3. Wasn’t he always talking about how much he loved the Steelers … like a family etc etc?

  4. Colts let Garcon walk and sign Wallace. The pieces are all starting to come together.

  5. Love to see him opposite of A.J. Green. That would make one of the best 1-2 receiver tandems in the league. Along with Gresham at TE, and Jordan Shipley in the slot. I’m drooling at that prospect.

  6. Unfortunately, Baalke has been on record saying that splurging on players from other teams would not be the direction 49ers would take. It lines up with how they’ve operated in (at least) the last few year(s).

  7. Acquiring a 25-year-old who’s arguably the best deep threat in the NFL for a first-round draft pick isn’t a bad deal at all, especially if there’s a playoff contender that believes a big-play receiver is just the thing they need to win the Super Bowl.
    Can’t disagree with this! Any team that acquires Wallace will be more than happy.

  8. Gotta think the 49ers are going to be looking at this guy as their number one free agent target at WR. Pretty confident he is better than any WR drafted in the first round this year. Wallace to the 49ers. Mark it down.

  9. Eagles….step up. DeShawn on one side, Wallace on the other with Maclin in the slot with McCoy in the backfield? Even Vick and Reid couldn’t screw that up, could they…..?

  10. This makes me smile a little, mainly because of some of the “Great” Steeler posters who were lambasting the Raider’s for their cap issue. Now, they are still dealing with their cap and they might be out their best wide-out, only to end up on the Patriots! That has got to be a little humorous to some.

  11. If I were the Browns, who have a ridiculous need for WR help, I’d totally give up the 22nd pick for Wallace. Ordinarily, I’m not huge on the browns picking up Steeler scum, but Wallace hasn’t really been there long enough to be totally tarnished, ha ha…

  12. This is a no brainer. Unless your team has Calvin Johnson, Andre Johnson, Fitzgerald and maybe Vincent Jackson, then you would be out of your mind to not trade a first round pick for this guy. He is extremely talented and he doesnt come with character concerns. Steelers have no chance at holding on to him at this point

  13. Cleveland has two first rounders… Is it about the money for Wallace, or the rings?

  14. New england just franchised walker so that take them out, foster just signed a big contract, the 49ers are the team to watch. But remember the cap is not set yet it will probably go up that will help the steelers a lot.

  15. I wish the Raven’s fans would stop with the Ball So Hard U crap, its lame, really lame. Sort of makes me want to commit a terribly gruesome act of violence on one. Just sayin.

  16. I was against it at first, but now I hope the 9ers jump on this opportunity. Honestly, I’d rather get Bryant, but the Steelers aren’t going to let it happen twice, especially for Bryant. If the price is right, the 9ers need to jump on it! I bet he ends up signing for less than say VJax.

    The Steelers should do what they can to help; you know they’d rather see him in the NFC than say Baltimore or NE. Not sure they can do much, but feel free to hate as much as possible on other AFC teams.

  17. 4ever19 says:
    Mar 5, 2012 7:03 PM

    Colts let Garcon walk and sign Wallace. The pieces are all starting to come together.


    Not a bad idea if they can trade all the way down and give up a low 1st rounder and a pile of picks for Andrew Luck. But no chance they trade the rights to Andrew Luck for Wallace straight up.

  18. The Steelers are screwed. Hes not going to Pats. You cant pay 2 wrs 10 million.

  19. 4ever19 says:
    Mar 5, 2012 7:03 PM
    Colts let Garcon walk and sign Wallace. The pieces are all starting to come together.


    Couldn’t agree more. I’d be happy to take the Andrew Luck bargaining chip for picks/matt kalil in exchange 😛 You’re too kind.

  20. Is there any free agent out there that the Eagles fans do NOT want their team to sign?

  21. any team with a low 1st rounder (like 25-32) would be crazy not to consider picking him up.

  22. Baalke covets his draft picks like gold but I think if he was ever going to pull the trigger on a deal like this now is the time. The have the cap space and they have the need.

    Make it happen Trent!!!! Wallace opposite Crabtree with Vernon Davis running amok in the middle would be a beautiful site.

  23. The Saints could use him as their best vertical threat. He is worth giving up the first round draft pick.

    Oh, wait . . . . .

  24. Am I crazy for thinking he’s worth 12M a year? The guy is 25 years old and has proven himself over the course of three seasons and a Super Bowl.

    Fitzgerald is making 15M. Desean Jackson is making 10M with the franchise tag. Wallace has to be between those two somewhere.

  25. thraiderskin says:

    I wish the Raven’s fans would stop with the Ball So Hard U crap, its lame, really lame. Sort of makes me want to commit a terribly gruesome act of violence on one. Just sayin.
    Ravens fan here. Not that fond of the saying myself but maybe your team should come up with a new slogan since either “Just Win Baby” or “Commitment to Excellence” hasn’t applied to the Raiders in well over 20 years.

  26. I’m sure the Steelers won’t mind the #4 pick in the draft. I would worry more about who’s going to throw the ball in Cleveland versus who is going to catch it.

  27. 4ever19 says:
    Mar 5, 2012 7:03 PM
    Colts let Garcon walk and sign Wallace. The pieces are all starting to come together.

     Guess you missed the part of giving up the 1st rd pick. Wallace will be gone way before this years draft.

  28. Whenever you make an offer to sign another team’s restricted free agent you MUST give up YOUR pick and not a 1st rounder acquired from another team in a trade.

  29. Nope they would give up the later rd pick. Cleveland would not have to give #4 to get him.

    Mike Wallace is going to get offered a great contract from Teams…

  30. Any team that signs Wallace has to give Pittspuke their first round pick this year. If the Browns signed Wallace they would have to give up the #4 pick. Ain’t gonna happen!

  31. I disagree with the assertion that Wallace is the best WR in Pittsburgh. He is certainly the fastest and most dangerous deep threat but his hands are suspect. Any Steelers fan who has the ability to analyze his skills objectively will agree that he cannot catch as well as Antonio Brown. Everybody freaked when the Steelers got rid of Plaxico back in the day and even more were concerned when they let Santonio Holmes go (including myself) but they always seem to find some great receivers in the middle rounds of the draft. I am not saying it will be easy at first but I have no doubt that they will be just fine if he goes to another team.

  32. Who are the Steelers paying so much money to? On Defense, you have 3 good players: Harrison (and he’s getting old), Woodley and Troy P (and he seems to get hurt all the time). On offense, you have Pouncey (also hurt all the time), Big Ben and Wallace. They need to figure out a way to keep Wallace.

  33. For some reason I could see Detroit making a run for him.

    Sure Stafford had 5k yards but they need to take pressure off Megatron. Wallace on the other side would do that and really give them options offensively. Particularly with their RB questions.

  34. I don’t see Wallace going to the Bengals. Leopards don’t change their spots and Mike Brown’s not gonna change his, er, stripes either. He’s got two picks in the first round, but I bet he’d rather use those two picks on players with “potential” (“cheap” to you and me) than trade for and pay Wallace. On the other hand, if the Browns could pull off the trade that brings them RGIII AND sign Wallace, they go from no offense to instant offense. And they hurt Pittsburg as a bonus. I’d give up three first round picks for that.

  35. This is RESTRICTED Free Agency folks… Any team that signs him as a restricted free agent will be forced to surrender THEIR 1st round pick for the year. So Browns fans, you’d be giving up #4, not #22 you got from Atlanta. This is the same reason the Pats would be giving up their pick (31) vs the lower one they got from New Orleans.

    I’m not sure what would happen if New Orleans signed him to a contract offer not having a 1st round pick this year. Are they prevented from signing him unless they somehow reaccuire their 1st rounder? Is it like baseball where they’d be giving up their next highest pick?

    If it’s the latter and they’d only have to give up their 2nd rounder, what’s to stop New Orleans from signing him and giving up their 2nd rounder, then trading him to another team for that teams earlier 2nd rounder.

    This scenario would only allow the Steelers to get the Saints 2nd rounder while the Saints would be able to move up in round 2 and allow the team that receives Wallace to keep their 1st rounder.

  36. Silly Browns fans. You don’t get to choose. You would have to give up your own pick. 4th overall is steep unless its for a franchise qb. Plus you have to give him a fat contract

  37. I realize you said “arguably” and thereby left yourself a huge out. But c’mon, can the argument really be made that Mike Wallace is a better deep threat than Calvin Johnson?

    So if I can guarantee one on one coverage, and I need to pick up 50 yards to get into field goal range, I’d rather throw it deep to Mike Wallace than Megatron? I dunno if you can even argue that one PFT…..

  38. I’d love to be wrong, but he’s not coming to the Pats. No way they spend that much $$ at WR now that they’ve tagged Welker. They’ll go for a cheaper option at WR like Lloyd and/or Wayne and spend the rest on defensive parts.

  39. Hey Browns’ genius fans, they don’t get to choose which first round pick they give up. It is their original pick (#4), the one they earned by sucking once again in 2011, not the one they gained via a trade (#22). Nice try. Steelers surely wouldn’t mind taking that 4th overall pick for them.

  40. I am a Bengals fan and I would consider signing him to a front-loaded, four year, $36 million contract with a first year salary of around $18 million and give up the 21st overall pick. Cincinnati would have a great receiving core and take a stud from a division rival.

    However, I think Denver would be a natural choice. The Broncos have nearly $25 million in cap space and Elway might sign Wallace with Demayrius Thomas to have a great receiving tandem if they decide to go in a different direction than Tim Tebow over the course of next season. Denver also has the 25th Overall Pick and wouldn’t be giving up a high pick like the Browns, Bills, Buccaneers, etc.

  41. What I said (that they deleted) was it would be great if the 49ers could pick this guy up unless the salary he would want would be enough to afford two WRs (IE: Colston + Lloyd)

  42. First of all, you nutjob fans from other teams need to realize this is restricted free agency. Your team may make him an offer, but Pittsburgh will match it. Just watch and see. You guys talk like all your team has to do is give up a first rounder.

  43. Tendering Wallace guarantees the Steelers a first round pick as compensation in THIS years draft. It does not prevent teams without a first round pick from speaking with Wallace because he is a restricted free agent.

    A team with a first round pick must give the Steelers THEIR assigned first round pick should they sign Wallace to an offer sheet and the Steelers decline to match.

    The scenarios for teams without a first round pick to get Wallace would require the Steelers to sign Wallace at the contract that Wallace would negotiate with the other team in what amounts to a sign and trade deal. Very unlikely because the Steelers don’t have the cap space to do it.

    I would say any team with their assigned first round pick could go after Wallace but in all likelihood it would only be teams in the lower portion of the first round.

    The Saints, for instance, would have to reacquire their first rounder from NE to be a realistic destination. The cost of that would likely be a future 1 and a 2 or 3 this year. Not out of the question but the cost for Wallace ultimately to NO would be two 1’s and a 2 or 3. Not going to happen.

  44. I love Wallace, but his production this year declined as the season wore on. He’s a run down the field guy. If you can’t pass protect (like the Steelers) to give him time to run downfield, or can’t run block (like the Steelers) to keep the safeties honest, then why bother signing him until you address those issues? Elite speed like Wallace’s only last 2-3 years before the league catches up. Unless he has displayed other skills, like running precise intermediate & short routes, etc., it may be in the Steelers’ interest to get picks to address their other important needs.

  45. If Wallace goes, look for the Steelers to use their extra first rounder to move up in the draft to take Dontari Poe.

    Losing Wallace would hurt, but Poe anchoring the d-line for the next decade would soften the blow.

  46. If I’m Tom Brady….I am absolutely demanding they sign Wallace. As a dolphins fan I hope they don’t.

  47. Remember, it’s not just giving up a 1st round pick. It’s also overpaying him so that the Steelers can’t match.

    Doubtful any team will do that.

  48. Pats wud be inSane but too much like old colts and recent pats. Spend it on d please

  49. First off some of u knuckleheads dont understand howit works. The Browns and the Colts r not suiters for Wallace as they would have to give u Their own 1st rnd pick. #1 or #4 and that aint happenin. And as far as Pitt droppin the ball on this one, I dont believe so. Who would think that a 3rd rnd pick would be a top 5 wr in 3 yrs. They always sign 3rd through 7th rnders for 3 yr contracts. This is nothin new. The positive is they will rec someones 1st rnd pick in this case.

  50. wallace and wayne in the patriots offense would make 2007 look like a joke…those two in this offense with welker gronk and hernandez? with the offensive line in the great shape it’s in? it would be unstoppable…they could give that pick to the steelers too since they wouldn’t need a receiver anymore and use the rest of the picks to shore up the safety spot and get another pass rusher…as a patriots fan i tear up just thinking about the possibilities here

  51. This article and comments make me all sorts of frustrated. Pittsburgh would like to see him get another shot at a title in black and gold. Unfortunately this situation seems bleak for us Steeler fans.

  52. I would have to say the Saints cannot make a play for Wallace as the rule states the Steelers would rec the teams 1st rnd pick for his services. Which they have not.

  53. The Browns should hurry up and give the Rams their fourth and 22nd picks so the Rams can take Blackmon at 4 and get Wallace for the 22nd…thus taking Wallace out of the division.

  54. first pats franchised welker are out of cash. the Texans just gave foster cash too. the only team that can is the niners and the steelers will match

  55. I do not see the Dolphins willing to give up the 8th overall pick and big money to a guy when they don’t have their Franchise Quarterback. St. Louis does not have the cap space nor the assets to give him up; Fisher won’t give up the second overall pick for Mike Wallace even if they had $30 million in cap.

  56. f the Pats use their 31st pick on Wallace and then get someone like Wayne or Lloyd to pair up with Wallace, Gronk, Hernandez, and Welker, I’m scared. And I’m a Dolphins fan, so I wouldn’t look forward to playing that twice a year.
    It is ok to dream but reality that will not happen.Yes the Patriots can get Mike Wallace but I highly doubt if they did get him they would not get another WR like Reggie Wayne.

  57. Actually Pittsburgh is very smart on this one… Most Steelers fan agree that Brown is overall a better WR than Wallace.. Wallace is a little faster, but doesnt catch all that well and isnt a very good route runner. Also, Even if the Steelers keep him at RFA for 2.7 million, Having Brown and Sanders due up next year for contracts .. I dont think that they keep Wallace anyway so is a case of getting something for him ( a first round pick ) is better than nothing a year from now.. If a team wouldd like to give up thier frist round pick plus can give up 10 million a year to sign him… please go ahead and I will take the first round pick and Brown.. Seems like a fair trade off to me. Not many teams can keep 3 WRs wanting big money… Wallace and Brown and I think sanders after this year have exceeded previous expectations…so isnt a bad situation to have for 2 3rd round picks and a 6th.

    Someone please go ahead and take him and his 10 million a year to run straight up the field…. I think can find same thing in drafft if look hard enough for 550 000.

  58. Well even if the Browns gave up the 4th pick to get Wallace and decide to pursue a QB like Flynn and still had their 22nd pick to pick up some more pieces to the puzzle I think they would be miles ahead instead of selling the Farm for RG3…

    Plus an early 2nd rounder.

  59. Well.Well.Well!!! I can recall during the season that Mike Wallace name was barely mentioned as a top receiver and now that he a free agent all the contenders are after him. Oh well, that what we do. Steelers produce top players and then they leave and fade away.

  60. Like usual, Colbert and Khan have made a wonderful decision for both the short- and long-term success for the Steelers. The steelers clearly could not afford to use the franchise tag on Wallace this year. By using the RFA they are guaranteed at least a second first round draft pick for this years draft. Colbert has a wonderful track record in utilizing his 1st round picks. Secondly the steelers get the right to match any offer an opposing team makes for Wallace. If that team possesses a late round pick then the steelers will sign match the offer and keep him, or trade him next year for a greater value. It is highly unlikely that any team will give up a first round pick as well as offer a long term contract worth more per year than the franchise tag. So by using the RFA the steelers can sign him for a lesser amount than had they tagged him. If nobody offers him a contract then steelers get him for very cheap for the year, 2.6 million. They then get another year to compare the performance of Wallace with Brown and decide who is a better long term fit for the system. If a team does decide to give up a first round pick as well as offering an extremely high salary that compares with that value of the franchise tag, then the steelers will accept that teams 1st round pick. They then have the ability to trade up using their two first rounders for either an offensive lineman or a defensive lineman. Both positions need to be upgraded dramatically. Colbert and khan have cleared enough cap space to make any move possible at this point. This was a very shrewd maneuver by the steelers front office, something that has become very common with Colbert in charge of personnel and khan in charge of the finances. One thing is for sure, when the steelers lose Omar Khan (which is bound to happen in the next two years), it will be a greater loss to the future of the franchise than will be the loss of my favorite player in recent years- #17 Mr. Speed demon himself Mike the King Wallace!!!

  61. Patriots are NOT out of money. As we speak, they are trying to negotiated a longer deal with Welker to lower their cap hit.
    They will explore several options, as Wallace is not the only receiver out there. WR is one of the stronger positions in free agency, so the Patriots will do their due diligence and check out Jackson, Lloyd, Wayne, Garcon, Wallace etc. Don’t be surprised if they – and others – are brought into Foxborough before the draft to see how they fit in, can they adapt to the complex offense and what are they asking for contract-wise. Then, if Wallace is the best fit, give up their No. 1 pick, which is lower than New Orleans.
    Yes, in the past, the Patriots have been willing to trade down “for value.” But that was BEFORE the rookie cap.
    My guess is that they sign someone else and use both of their No. 1s, unless someone makes them an offer they can’t refuse, as they also have two No 2s!

  62. Forking over a 1st round pick to have a guy at a reasonable price for one year is what stupid GMs do.

  63. I’m so sick of people talking about the Steelers imploding or rebuilding. Every single year the same people talk about how this year is the year that the Steelers will finally stop being consistent. And almost every year they are wrong.

    The Steelers are a well run franchise. As long as the management stays in place, it’s going to be the same. Get over it losers.

    On a related topic, as a 49er fan I would love to get Wallace in theory but he probably doesn’t match our system unless Alex Smith is going to suddenly develop some arm strength.

  64. I’m gonna laugh if someone like the Patsys sign him.

    The Steelers will only get a late first rounder for him
    when his stats say he is worth more than that.

    Of course, this is also doubtful, although I’m sure
    their QB Mr. Gisele Bundchen would love it.

    The Patsys are too cheap to spend the money…

  65. Patsys???? Apparently spelling is not an important part of the curriculum in Pennsylvania schools! We’ll leave it at that regarding the comment of a team that lost a playoff game to the Tebow AC. (See Patriots – Broncos playoff game score, by comparison). We can also compare the character and personal lives of our two team’s quarterbacks as well, if you care not to restrict comments to football.
    With so many unrestricted free agents at the position on the market, giving up a No. 1 draft choice in the rookie salary cap era and then having to sign Wallace to a contract at the money he is asking for, the Patriots would be smart, not too cheap, to look at other alternatives.
    The bottom line is that they have numerous options to consider. One thing is for sure, like Pittsburgh, Baltimore and other good teams, they ALWAYS consider all of their options before making a final decision.

  66. There is something fundamental that people seem to not understand.

    The whole front-loaded, poison-pill business really doesn’t apply here. Just because somebody offers a contract that PIT cannot match, it doesn’t mean that Wallace has to sign it.

    Poison pill provisions are relevant only when the player wants to leave the team that he’s on. There’s no reason to believe that Wallace would rather play for a team other than the PIT. Even NE has the drawback that he would be the #2. So if PIT can generate a comparable offer (incuding guarantees), even if it’s not front-loaded, there’s no reason for him to leave.

    This means that some other team has to pay a full first-round pick worth more than PIT is willing to pay to keep him. (Of course PIT is less inclined to keep him if they get a #1 for letting him go.)

  67. Patpatriot… I like how your patriots folded against the giants when you were favorties to win… twice. See boxscore for stats.

  68. This is not going to implode by mid-year as some suggest. They are cutting some of the older players and adding younger ones. It should be a great mix of veterans and young talent. I think the Steelers are very smart making a transition that should help them continue greatness. They will continue their winning ways and competing for a Super Bowl year in and year out. Business as usual.

  69. kilo986: Don’t know which team you are a fan of but to say they “folded . . . twice” when the only stats that count – the final score:
    2008 Giants – 17
    Patriots – 14

    2012 Giants – 21
    Patriots – 17 hardly indicate that they “folded.” Actually they were one bizarre catch and one close miss away from winning both games.

    As a Patriots fan, the stats that mean the most to me is that in the Robert Kraft -Bill Belichick era, the Patriots have won the division nine of 12 years (tieing the Dolphins in another, but losing the tie-breaker) and have been to the Super Bowl five times in 12 years. I can live with that!
    They are the model of consistency and, if you first have to get there before you can win it, at least Patriots fans can be assured that they have a chance to do that EVERY year. How many teams in the NFL can say that?

  70. If a team has multiple first round picks which pick is the one used if Wallace would sign an offer sheet with said team for compensation?

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