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Old 02-25-2012, 12:35 AM   #1
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Default Bires: Steelers make most dollars, sense for Wallace

Bires: Steelers make most dollars, sense for Wallace
By Mike Bires mbires@timesonline.com | Posted: Wednesday, February 22, 2012 8:20 pm

Throughout Steeler Nation, there's fear that Mike Wallace is ready to move on.

There's growing speculation that a number of teams will try to steal away the speedy wide receiver who's a restricted free agent.

Among the potential buyers are the Patriots, 49ers and Ravens, each championship contenders in the market for an upgrade at wideout. For everyone with a vested interest in the Steelers -- from management down to fans -- Wallace playing for archrival Baltimore is such a painful idea.

And on Wednesday, Wallace himself fueled the uneasiness regarding his future in Pittsburgh during an interview on Sirius Radio.

Although he did say that his "heart is definitely in Pittsburgh," he let it be known that business is business and he'll do what's best for him. If the money is right, he has no problem playing for someone else, even the Ravens.

"I have to do what I have to do," he said.

Well, I don't think Wallace is going anywhere.

There will be change in 2012 for the Steelers. But the change won't include Wallace.

Over the years, the Steelers have never been major players in the free agent market. They allow other teams to throw around big bucks at high-profile free agents.

The Steeler Way is to take care of their own free agents, especially when it comes to young talent like Wallace.

Two weeks ago, team president Art Rooney II said that re-signing Wallace was the Steelers' top priority.

There has been some talk about putting a franchise tag on Wallace. If that's the case, he would get a one-year deal worth $9.6 million. But considering that the Steelers are still around $5-10 million over the salary cap despite re-negotiating contracts of several players, tagging Wallace isn't feasible.

The Steelers could put a first-round tender on Wallace worth $2.7 million for the year. But that would be risky business. That would allow other teams to lure him with a lucrative offer the Steelers couldn't match considering their cap restrictions. If that would be the case, the Steelers would get a first-round draft pick.

And if Wallace were to wind up with the Ravens, 49ers or Patriots, those teams own the 29th, 30th and 31st picks in the first round.

So look for the Steelers to sign Wallace to a long-term deal before the salary cap deadline in mid-March.

It's a move that makes the most sense.

Wallace has put up numbers that match any receiver in franchise history in the first three years of their careers. He still has much to improve on -- particularly in the postseason -- but without Wallace that electrifying receiving corps that includes Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders loses its best deep threat who opens things up for others in the passing game.

In his Sirius interview, Wallace also said that his agent and the Steelers have been negotiating. So despite Wallace's admission that he wouldn't mind playing in New England, San Francisco or Baltimore, it's not going to happen.

I believe Art Rooney II when he says Wallace is the Steelers' No. 1 priority.

Wallace will play for the Steelers next season.
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Old 02-25-2012, 01:01 AM   #2
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Default Re: Bires: Steelers make most dollars, sense for Wallace

I sure hope so.
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