Will unhappy Wallace leave Steelers in '13?

April, 22, 2012
4/22/12
12:23
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It's clear that restricted free agent Mike Wallace is not happy with the Pittsburgh Steelers right now. He is prepared to sit out offseason drills and at least the start of training camp, league sources told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.

Does this hurt the Steelers' chances of keeping him long term? Not at all. Players get upset about their contract status all the time and skip workouts on a regular basis to show their dissatisfaction with their current situation.

Just remember the recent predicament with guard Logan Mankins, who was unhappy and wanted out of New England because he didn't want to play as a restricted free agent. How did that get resolved? Mankins signed a six-year contract last summer that included a $20 million signing bonus.

It was a similar ugly standoff last year between the Tennessee Titans and running back Chris Johnson. In the end, the sides were shaking hands on four-year, $53.5 million contract extension that included $30 million guaranteed.

Wallace wants a long-term deal instead of a $2.7 million first-round tender. He has outplayed his contract, and the Steelers have repeatedly said they want to sign him to a multiyear deal. This problem probably won't get resolved this year, but Wallace would only be hurting himself by dragging this out beyond June 15 (when the Steelers can cut the tender to $577,500 if he doesn't sign).

The Steelers don't a have long history of re-signing their wide receivers in free agency -- only Hines Ward has been retained -- but there's also no reason to doubt the team's desire to keep him. Pittsburgh has rewarded Ben Roethlisberger, Troy Polamalu, LaMarr Woodley and Lawrence Timmons with extensions.

Plus, Wallace is a key part of the Steelers' deep passing game. His receiving yards (3,206) and touchdowns (24) both rank as the second most by an NFL receiver in his first three seasons. And, even when Wallace isn't catching the ball, the threat of him running deep opens up the underneath for wide receiver Antonio Brown and tight end Heath Miller.

So, Wallace is ticked off by his contract status, and the Steelers aren't going to like him missing workouts in a year with a new offensive coordinator. But NFL history shows that a multiyear contract can turn a temporarily bad situation into a happy long-term one.

Jamison Hensley

ESPN Ravens reporter

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