Fast guys. Everyone wants one, everyone wants to be one, and we may be about to enter an offseason when the finely-tuned athletic machine is more in demand than ever. We can in part thank Chip Kelly for that, as he’s surely about to assemble even more pieces for his new Eagles offense which suit his up-tempo style. And we can thank Robert Griffin III, Colin Kaepernick, and Russell Wilson too, all young, mobile quarterbacks who need the proper tools around to complement their skillsets.
There will maybe, likely be one such really fast guy on the open market this March. His name is Mike Wallace, and he plays wide receiver.
A year ago we were at the beginning of the latest Wallace vs. Steelers management show down at the town square. Wallace was a restricted free agent, and he had little desire to sign his contract tender. Of course, with his RFA status the Steelers held ultimate control over their commodity. If he wanted to play football, he would sign. And if he didn’t, well, he’d have to Vincent Jackson himself (sit out until Week 11). Eventually since he was aware that contract negotiations revolve around leverage and he had none, Wallace relented and signed.
Now he’s about to enter unrestricted free agency in about two months, and the Steelers are strongly hinting that Wallace won’t be franchised.
In fact, yesterday general manager Kevin Colbert said that it’s “very doubtful” any pending free agent on his roster will be franchised, adding that “I don’t think we have too many franchise players.” Burn.
From there, you can easily put together what’s set to happen next. If Wallace isn’t given the franchise tag (last year the franchise tender for wide receivers was set at $9.4 million), then he’s almost surely played his last game as a Steeler. Pittsburgh has Antonio Brown, who has a nearly identical skillset (deep threat, fast guy, field stretcher). Instead of spending money on Wallace last summer, Brown was given a six-year contract worth $43.5 million, making Wallace expendable. Sure, Wallace is young, and he’s undoubtedly still short of his talent ceiling. But Brown is younger, and even further from his (Wallace is 26, and Brown is 24). Furthering the lack of need to chuck Benjamins at Wallace is the presence of Emmanuel Sanders, the restricted Steelers free agent wideout who had 626 receiving yards this year despite limited snaps.
Wallace will still be in demand, though, as despite a significant regression from his breakout 2010 season in which he had 1,257 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns (he finished with 836 yards and eight touchdowns this year), it’s highly expected that someone, somewhere will give this particular speedy guy far more money than what he deserves due to the aforementioned premium on players who can provide his services. So if the Steelers have no desire to employ him, then who does?
As always, that’s an especially intriguing question from a fantasy perspective, and one that could impact multiple players. Among the usual suspects of wide receiver-needy teams, I’d like to see Wallace land with the division rival Browns. A complement for Josh Gordon is needed, as although Greg Little has progressed, he’s been given plenty of time to cash in on his potential, and his stalling development has been maddening.
On an already young and blossoming roster, Wallace’s presence would immediately give Brandon Weeden quality late-round value with his multiple deep options, and Trent Richardson’s ceiling would be raised as well with defenses stretched out more frequently. Miami would also be a fun landing spot for a similar reason, with Wallace giving Ryan Tannehill the deep connection he so desperately needs.
And now the links part of the links post…
- Hiring season is slowly, mercifully drawing to a close after the Jaguars brought Gus Bradley aboard to fill their head coach vacancy. [umm, us]
- Jermichael Finley will almost certainly return to Green Bay next year. [Green Bay Press Gazette]
- My productivity today will be held back significantly by this insane Manti T’eo story that’s still dominating discussion in the office. Don’t worry, Pittsburgh, Troy Polamalu wasn’t involved. [PFT]
- If you don’t think T”eo’s draft stock is going to suffer because of this, well, you’re not familiar with the realm of hearsay and speculation that is the NFL draft. Missing breakfast can lead to plummeting value. [Shutdown Corner]