The Steelers haven’t hidden the fact they plan to retain Pro Bowl WR Mike Wallace. How exactly they’ll go about it remains undecided.
As the Steelers maneuver for more salary-cap space, GM Kevin Colbert let it be known this week that the team will allow its free agents to hit the open market. That likely will include Wallace, a restricted free agent whom the Steelers would like to lock up to a long-term deal after back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons.
NFL Network insider Jason La Canfora suggested Tuesday on “NFL Total Access” it’s “more likely” the Steelers will place the highest free-agent tender on Wallace than use the franchise tag, which is expected to rise to $13.7 million this offseason. As a restricted free agent under the highest tender, teams would have to part ways with a first-round pick as well as ante up a new contract for Wallace.
“If someone starts dangling a massive contract in front of him and is willing to part with that first-round pick, maybe the Steelers are vulnerable,” La Canfora said. “History would say there won’t be a play for him, but you never know.”
As small as those chances are, the Steelers are in a corner. A team with multiple first-round picks and a need at receiver — such as the Patriots — could be tempted.