Saturday, February 18, 2012

It's Time To Address the Mike Wallace Situation.





Let's bottom-line this on the first line: I believe there's only a 20/80 chance that Mike Wallace leaves. Why a 20% chance? Why not a 10% chance, a 25% chance or even 50/50? I'll get into that.

First, let's look at the man in question. From what I've been told by those who've met him, he is a personable, endearing and humble young man. One person in particular by the name of Juan José Vera shared this experience with me:

"Two Springs ago the Steelers Youth Camp was held here in Mexico City, Mexico. The show/day was over, but my son (he has Williams Syndrome {Williams Syndrome: A genetic condition that is present at birth and can affect anyone. It is characterized by medical problems, including cardiovascular disease, developmental delays, and learning disabilities. These occur side by side with striking verbal abilities, highly social personalities and an affinity for music.} and was 10 yrs old) saw Mike coming from nowhere and asked him for a pic. (Mike) could've said, 'No, sorry, show is over. Bye' or anything, but he smiled and let my wife shoot a pic with him. That's humble (or "humility"). I can't find another word for him." Thank you for that, Juan.

 For more on Williams Syndrome and its effects, go to http://www.williams-syndrome.org/what-is-williams-syndrome

That's mama's home cookin' right there! THAT'S what we think of, at least what we want to think of, when we think of our Steelers players. It's the epitome of Steeler Nation and our Steeler family. (Sure, he comes off as supremely confident and borderline cocky in interviews, but, c'mon, have you seen him play? I'd be a little cocky too.)

So, for reasons like that, I believe that he'll decide to stay.

You could make the argument, I suppose, that 'this is from two years ago after his rookie season, and that fame and dollar signs hadn't filled his eyes yet.'

'Besides, you know these Divo WRs/young athletes, Mtv Cribs was a hit for a reason: these young cats want money NOW. They think they're too good for rings NOT to come. Dan Marino said he thought he was going to the Super Bowl every year after going so early in his career. Plus, your best players don't always go and/or win. Again, look at Marino and then remember Trent Dilfer and Chris Carter.'

'So, if he feels "insulted" by not getting as much as he thinks he's worth, the number that's currently in his head, I could see him signing elsewhere. Maybe even in the division to Baltimore or Cincinnati, two teams with salary cap space, therefore, lots of money to throw his way, and a need for his level of wide receiver.'

You certainly could make those arguments and throw them at the wall to see if they stick. You could, except that I've had similar experiences as the one I quoted before shared with me from just last year. I'm not, therefore, going to drink that Kool-Aid. He seems to be the same young man as he was a couple of years ago and, more importantly, WANTS to be a part of this Über-talented wide receiver corps. To essentially be the Don of the Young Money Crew.

No, the biggest part of why he may leave is a series of four other names: Vincent Jackson, DeSean Jackson, Wes Welker and Marcus Colston. Now, add Mike Wallace's name and you have the five big name wide receivers who are out there. In other words, it's a dog and pony show where Wallace isn't the only (one-trick) pony. Sorry, had to...

Wallace not being the only name is important because who's to say that a New England, a Baltimore, a San Francisco or a Cincinnati doesn't covet one of the Jacksons or Colston more so? Or that New England doesn't want to give up that extra first-round draft pick so that they can concentrate on Welker? They didn't give up their extra first-round draft pick in 2005 NFL Draft, did they? Oh, wait...they had no choice in that draft because of their contract with Kodak to film practices and walk-throughs. But, I digress...

The point is that, because there are other options, he isn't Tupac, so it's not all eyes on me, as it were. That is to the Steelers' advantage. Here's why.

During the several interviews last week, Steelers GM Kevin Colbert stated that the Steelers WILL protect their interests in Wallace, again a restricted free agent who will, by the way, receive a first round tender of around $2.74 million. That tender would allow the Steelers the ability to match whatever offer sheet is given by another team that wants to sign Wallace, or to receive a first-round draft pick from that team should they decide not to match it or if they can't match it.

Colbert also said that the Steelers have not ruled out the possibility of placing a franchise tag on Wallace, which for wide receivers this year is going to be about $9.4 million. If a team were to then try to sign Wallace away, it would cost them two first round draft picks instead of the one first round picks that the first round restricted tender provides.

The problem with this is that the difference in the amounts is that the Steelers would have to be able to fit that amount under the salary cap until hopefully a longer term deal can be reached with Wallace, thus lowering his 2012 cap hit. Which is why I believe that Omar Khan and Kevin Colbert are working on this as you read this. It makes more sense to fit everything else around this signing considering that we all know several cuts are coming. Until those cuts happen, it seems to be more of an issue than it may actually be.

As was written in another article in this Blog, ones like Ward and Smith could still retire, and Farrior, Foote, Will Allen, Kemoeatu and Jonathan Scott, could all be cut. (Do you think the saying of Jonathan Scott's name brings a blood-curdling scream from Big Ben like that of the saying of Frau Blücher's name brought a scared whinny from the horses in Young Frankenstein? I bet it does. Anyway...)

Granted, this isn't simple by any stretch of the imagination when we're anywhere from $11-$15 over the cap and to tag him would mean approximately another $9.4 million would also count against the cap taking it back up to $20-$24 million over the cap. So, that's why I said what I did: don't try to fit a square peg in a round hole. Get your numbers in line as to what you want to do and can do, and then trim the fat. You could do so and then cut the players accordingly. We know they're going to be cut anyway. It has to be done before March 13th to be in accord with the Rule of 51 and before free agency, but it can be done. I am looking at it realistically and believe it can be done. We've seen Omar Khan work his magic before, we need it again.