Thursday, April 12, 2012
Another deadline to watch for Mike Wallace
By Jamison Hensley
There's only a week remaining for a team to sign restricted free agent Mike Wallace to an offer sheet. It doesn't seem like Wallace is going anywhere, but there's still a question of when he plans to return to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Wallace doesn't intend to sign his restricted free-agent tender, according to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter. That's a strong indication that he won't show up for Pittsburgh's offseason workouts unless he gets a long-term deal. If he doesn't sign his tender, he can't be fined for missing any offseason training activities because he's technically not under contract.
The next date to circle for Wallace is June 15. That's the deadline for Wallace to sign his tender or risk losing a lot of money. If Wallace remains unsigned by June 15, the Steelers can reduce his tender to 110 percent of last year's salary and still retain his rights. No team can sign Wallace to an offer sheet at that point because that deadline would have passed. Wallace's tender of $2.742 million can get cut to $577,500 -- a loss of $2.1 million. So, if Wallace wants to make a stand, the Steelers can take a bigger one.
All the Steelers have to do is notify Wallace of this possibility in a letter leading up to that deadline. This is what happened in 2010 to guard Logan Mankins in New England and wide receiver Vincent Jackson in San Diego. They chose not to sign their tenders to protest the restricted free-agency rules in the uncapped season and reported to their teams two months into the regular season.
I don't see Wallace taking it this far. He wants to show his displeasure for not getting a long-term deal, and he can do so by skipping most of the offseason workouts. The Steelers would prefer to have their No. 1 wide receiver at these practices because it's their first season under offensive coordinator Todd Haley, but it's more important that Wallace is there in training camp.
Everyone will know whether Wallace plans on showing up for training camp by June 15. That will reveal whether the sides are in for a long standoff. Again, I don't see that happening. When the time comes in June, Wallace should sign his tender, play this season for $2.7 million and get ready for free agency in 2013 if he doesn't have a new deal from the Steelers.