Wallace's future uncertain after Brown signs big deal
Antonio Brown took the money and ran. Mike Wallace apparently will take what's left, if there's any left at all.
Training camp wasn't even a week old before the Steelers started playing economic hardball, responding to a Wallace holdout that has clearly angered them by giving a big-money deal to Brown, Wallace's wide receiver running mate.
The Steelers' surprise move to lock up Brown through 2017 with a $42.5 million contract was a preemptive strike to make sure they don't go through a potentially distracting holdout with their other starting receiver next season.
General manager Kevin Colbert declined to discuss Wallace's absence during a Saturday news conference in which Brown related the excitement of being given such a contract after making only two touchdown catches and starting three NFL games.
Coach Mike Tomlin's update on the Wallace holdout was only one word longer: “None.”
Brown, whose emergence as a downfield threat began about the same time as Wallace's production began falling off last season, signed for the same money the Redskins gave free agent Pierre Garcon. The difference is Garcon caught 16 touchdown passes while averaging 61 catches per season the last three years with Indianapolis.
“He's a young guy, and it's only going to get better the more he plays, we anticipate,” Colbert said. “Antonio is one of our hardest workers, and he's never going to be satisfied.”
With the Steelers already projected to be $15 million over next year's salary cap, there are questions whether they could fit in another expensive wide receiver's contract even if Wallace signs his $2.742 million tender, reports to camp and attempts to reopen contract negotiations. Wallace is believed to want a deal worth at least $50 million.
Wallace still has some options; he can become a free agent even if he plays only the final six regular-season games. The Steelers have options, too; they could deal Wallace under a sign-and-trade scenario in which he signs the tender and is immediately dealt.
None of Wallace's teammates have complained yet about his absence becoming a distraction.
“The man's trying to do what's best for his family, and I'm going to try to support him,” nose tackle Casey Hampton said. “So I'm not going to say what I feel like he should do or anything like that. … But we'd love to have him in camp.”
Brown said, “When Mike gets here, we'll embrace him.”
Brown is the only receiver in NFL history with 1,000 receiving and 1,000 return yards in a season, but Tomlin doesn't seem as willing to risk using such an expensive talent as a full-time return man again this season.
“We've not closed the door on that, but we are looking at some young, promising guys,” Tomlin said.
What the Steelers still aren't looking at is Mike Wallace, and no one seems to know when he will return again, either.
Alan Robinson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Despite fulfilling promise to mother, Steelers’ Tomlin not yet satisfied
- Timmons feels pressure to transform Steelers back into contender
- In open AFC North, it’s anyone’s game
- Versatile linebacker Moats getting up to speed with Steelers
- Steelers defensive back Thomas isn’t conceding starting position yet
- Report: Steelers worth $1.118 billion
- Pounceys vow to defend themselves against nightclub allegations