Three and out: Whither Mike Wallace?

Steelers to let Wallace test free agency: Staring at a slew of salary cap issues, the Steelers  face a precarious situation with WR Mike Wallace. League sources have told NFL Network insider Jason La Canfora that there is “real concern” within the team’s front office that they could lose Wallace.  It would cost the Steelers $9 million against the cap if they use a franchise tag on Wallace, and the next concern for Pittsburgh becomes how much in salary the WR could draw from interested teams and whether the Steelers would be interested in matching it. Thanks to back-to-back quality seasons and a growing reputation as a playmaker, Wallace likely will be a sought after commodity. With plenty of teams looking for a top flight pass-catcher, there are a number of attractive locales for Wallace. He’s already slated to come off the board in the middle rounds, but in the right situation, his value could get a little bit of a bump. If he does leave, it puts the spotlight on Antonio Brown and raises questions of whether he’s ready to be a No. 1 receiver. Approach Brown with cautious optimism in the middle rounds.

Peterson hopes to be ready for opener: Vikings RB Adrian Peterson says his goal is to be ready for Minnesota’s 2012 season opener as he continues his rehab from reconstructive knee surgery. As far as goals go, it’s pretty optimistic since the timeline for recovering from ACL surgery is often in the neighborhood of eight to nine months — Peterson had surgery about eight months before the start of next season. There’s also the issue of whether or not he’ll be the familiar A.D. when he returns to the field. As Michael Fabiano wrote, RBs returning from ACL surgery generally haven’t fared well right away. One thing is for certain, Peterson won’t be a first-round back in most drafts next season. However, a consensus on where he should be drafted has yet to form. Expect much to be written and said on this topic as the summer approaches.

Bills not expected to franchise Johnson: The Bills and WR Stevie Johnson are reportedly still “far apart” in contract negotiations but the wideout doesn’t expect the team to use its franchise tag on him. While signing Johnson is important for the team, the price will have a large effect on whether he’s running routes in Orchard Park next season. Set to enter his fifth year in the league, Johnson has had good, but not great seasons in the past — although some of his inconsistency could reasonably be blamed on Buffalo’s inability to find a quality QB. Right now, there’s no telling if the Bills are willing to let the former Kentucky Wildcat walk, but for the moment, consider him a second-tier receiver suited for the middle rounds.

— Marcas Grant

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