Thursday, November 1, 2012
Schefter: Potential landing spots for Wallace
By Jamison Hensley
ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter speculated about potential suitors for Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace, who is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent after the season.
Schefter indicated that it would make sense for all three division rivals -- the Browns, Bengals and Ravens -- to show interest in a deep threat like Wallace. Browns wide receivers Josh Gordon and Greg Little have shown promise recently, but Cleveland lacks the flat-out speed of someone like Wallace. The Bengals have yet to find a wide receiver to take the attention away from A.J. Green, one of the best young talents in the game. And the Ravens have a young playmaker in Torrey Smith, but they have to decide whether to pay Anquan Boldin $6 million in the final year of his deal.
Other teams that Schefter linked to Wallace are: the Dolphins, Seahawks, Chargers and Chiefs. "The bottom line is that Wallace would make any team in the league better," Schefter wrote. "The better question is: What teams would be willing to dole out all the money it's going to take to get him? I think the team that does is one mentioned above."
One team that wasn't mentioned was the Steelers. There's still a chance that Pittsburgh won't allow Wallace to reach free agency by placing the franchise tag on him. To do this, the Steelers will have to do a lot of work to fit him under the salary cap.
Pittsburgh is expected to once again be well over the cap, and still needs to retain restricted free agents like running backs Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman, nose tackle Steve McLendon and receiver Emmanuel Sanders. The franchise tag for wide receivers is projected to be $11 million in 2013. To fit Wallace under the cap, the Steelers would have to cut (or severely reduce the pay of) linebacker James Harrison and restructure several contracts. There's also the possibility that the Steelers could sign Wallace to a new deal when talks resume after the season.
If the Steelers allow Wallace to hit the free-agent market, he will have a long list of options like the ones Schefter mentioned above. Wallace hasn't always looked sharp this season (the drops in Cincinnati) and he hasn't put up eye-popping numbers in Todd Haley's short passing attack. But teams covet speed and big-play ability. That's why there will be a demand for Wallace.