When Mike Wallace became a restricted free agent, his camp tried to spread the message that teams would be lining up to sign him because it would only take a first-round pick in compensation under the new CBA.
That didn’t work, but they aren’t through trying to get Wallace more money than he’s set to be paid under the tender placed on him by the Steelers earlier in the offseason. Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports that a handful of teams are interested in making a trade for the disgruntled wideout and, as Kaboly points out, this is the next stage in Wallace’s strategy to get a big new contract.
Via a trade, teams could land Wallace without giving up a first-round pick while Wallace would still be able to get the long-term deal that he hasn’t been able to get from the Steelers. By making it known that he won’t sign his tender, Wallace is signaling that he’ll be a thorn in the side of the Steelers and that it might just be better for them to get what they can for him now than deal with the headaches before he leaves as an unrestricted free agent after the 2012 season. That outcome seems likely given the tenor of negotiations thus far and the hints sent by Wallace’s camp about how much he’d like to be paid.
The Steelers made a somewhat similar deal with Santonio Holmes before the 2010 Draft. Holmes had off-field issues, but, like Wallace, Holmes was entering the final year before unrestricted free agency when the Steelers dealt him for a fifth-round pick. Whether or not they would be willing to part with Wallace is unclear, although it is preferable to get something for him instead of watching him leave for nothing as a free agent a year from now.