Mike Wallace is one of the best free agents in the NFL this offseason, and there are very few people who feel that he will sign a new deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers. As you know, Wallace held out last year before reporting to camp. He is looking for top dollar, and the Steelers may not be willing to give it to him.
Pittsburgh was, however, willing to throw a large chunk of cash at receiver Antonio Brown last season, signing him to a five-year extension worth $42.5 million. Brown, who has become a more reliable target for Ben Roethlisberger than Wallace, said the fact that he received a contract and Wallace didn’t created a bit of tension last season.
“Some bit of awkwardness,” Brown told 98.7 ESPN in New York. “You know, a guy who has been there longer than I and definitely wanting a deal, but you gotta not dwell on that and that kind of situation prohibits bad blood to a team where guys are there for themselves, and not buy into the team aspects and could definitely cause a drama within a team.”
As we have learned since the start of the offseason, the Steelers had their fair share of locker room issues last year. While it would probably be an exaggeration to say that Brown getting a contract over Wallace contributed to those problems, I’m sure it didn’t help.
That being said, football is a business. The Steelers obviously feel that Brown is reliable and has a bright future, even if his numbers were down in 2012 compared to 2011. Wallace is 26 and Brown is 24. Both are above-average receivers, so Pittsburgh would have to commit quite a bit of its bankroll to keep both. At this point, that seems unlikely.
Thanks to Sports Radio Interviews for the transcription