<
>

Mike Wallace acknowledges he might leave

2/22/2012

Mike Wallace said contract talks are ongoing with the Steelers, but the wide receiver acknowledged that he might not be playing in Pittsburgh this season.

"[Pittsburgh is] where I would like to be, but we all know that it is a business and you have certain things you have to handle," Wallace told Sirius NFL Radio, via the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "So if I have to go elsewhere, you know Pittsburgh will always be in my heart, but I have to do what I have to do."

The debate on Wallace has been whether the Steelers should put the first-round tender on him or the franchise tag. But the best way for the Steelers to keep Wallace is signing him to a new contract.

Reaching a new deal with Wallace would eliminate any team from prying him away (which could happen with the first-round tender) and would result in a much lower cap hit than the franchise tag ($9.6 million).

Wallace said that his agent Bus Cook has been talking about a new contract.

"Yeah, we are talking, but I don't know how far they are going to get right now because of the situation," Wallace said. "I know that they are working hard trying to take care of it, but I don't know. We'll see."

This wouldn't be unprecedented for the Steelers. It was February 2010 when Pittsburgh signed nose tackle Casey Hampton to a new deal when it appeared that the Steelers were going to put the franchise tag on him.

But the situation with Wallace is more complicated than the one with Hampton two years ago. The Steelers just have to determine how much money they're willing to give Wallace considering what lies ahead. Pittsburgh could be facing a similar situation next season when wide receiver Antonio Brown, the team's Most Valuable Player last season, will be a restricted free agent. So we could be having this same conversation in 2013.