Saturday, July 28, 2012
Revisiting Mike Wallace's availability
By Mike Sando
Mike Wallace, a preferred subject of NFC West speculation earlier in the offseason, suddenly appears more available than ever.
Max from Washington, D.C. wants to know via the NFC West mailbag whether the Seattle Seahawks would consider making a move for Wallace now that the receiver's future in Pittsburgh appears compromised. He wants to know, further, whether adding Wallace would "significantly change the current run-first approach" in Seattle.
Sando: The Steelers' new deal with receiver Antonio Brown makes it tough to envision the organization paying similar money for another wideout, no matter how talented Wallace might be. Trading Wallace for draft compensation makes more sense if the contract numbers for Brown -- five years and $42.5 million -- are as impressive as they sound. Wallace, a restricted free agent, is scheduled to earn $2.7 million if he reports to the team.
Every team in the NFL, including Pittsburgh, could use a receiver with Wallace's speed and abilities. I wouldn't limit the conversation to Seattle.
The St. Louis Rams might be a more natural trading partner given their additional early selections in future drafts and their potential need for an elite target after deciding against drafting a receiver in the first round. They're feeling good about Brian Quick and Chris Givens, though, so I'm not sure how much they'd be willing to invest in Wallace. The Rams have been trying to add draft choices, not part with them. Perhaps they look at their receivers in camp, get a better feel for where their team stands and then assess their options.
Acquiring Wallace would require parting with draft compensation and paying big money on a multi-year deal. It's more cost-effective to do what the Steelers have done; they made Wallace a third-round pick and have paid him less than $2 million to this point. If Wallace plays for the team under his $2.7 million offer, the team will have spent less than $5 million for four years of service. Teams interested in paying Wallace might be better off waiting for him to hit free agency.
Seattle showed a willingness previously to pursue receivers. The Seahawks were in the running for Brandon Marshall in 2010. They paid big for Sidney Rice. But it's telling, I think, that undrafted free agent Doug Baldwin has been their best value at the position since Pete Carroll took over in 2010. If the Steelers haven't been willing to meet Wallace's demands, what message does that send to other teams?
The San Francisco 49ers were considered potential suitors for Wallace early in free agency. They never showed much interest. The team has subsequently signed Randy Moss and Mario Manningham, and used a first-round choice for receiver A.J. Jenkins. Coach Jim Harbaugh has also praised Michael Crabtree for having great hands.
Would you trade, say, a 2013 first-rounder for the right to acquire Wallace on an expensive long-term deal?