The Pittsburgh Steelers‘ GM Kevin Colbert said yesterday that un-signed WR Mike Wallace is not on the trading block. That hasn’t stopped some in the mainstream media, local Miami media, and fans from proposing trade scenarios and “would you?” posts. In fact, with the Miami Dolphins training camp three days in and it’s first round pick, Ryan Tannehill, making his practice debut this morning, Mike Wallace is a hot topic on Miami Dolphins message boards.
We tend to call them forums, but regardless of the name they go by, it’s no doubt that the perception of Miami having the worst receiving corp in the league has fans jumping at the chance to add the fast pass catcher. The price, should Wallace go on the block, may be Dolphin prohibitive.
According to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald, there are rumors floating around that the asking price in terms of compensation to the Steelers has dropped to a 3rd or 4th round pick/s. A steal for sure for a player as young as Wallace and as talented. The question of contract is another story. Wallace wants a contract in the vicinity of 11 to 12 million a year which would equal the contract Vincent Jackson received this off-season in free agency. He has stated that he is not looking for Larry Fitzgerald, 155 million dollar deal as many reported back in March.
While the Dolphins are in need of a WR it’s impossible to know how much value Jeff Ireland and Joe Philbin see in trading for Wallace. The Dolphins are building their team through the draft. Or at least trying to. Last April, the Dolphins found themselves out of the picture for a few of the top WR’s in the draft, taken before they were on the clock in round 3. Likewise, the trade of Brandon Marshall back in March to open the free agency period left the team holding two 3rd round picks but nary a receiver to fill the hole.
In part, due to the wait and see approach taken with the Peyton Manning market, the Dolphins missed out on the top free agent WR’s. It was reported that following the Marshall trade, a Dolphins source told one local reporter that the team was about to make a big move. That didn’t happen. Jeff Ireland himself said that the team wasn’t done looking at WR’s and that they would, if the opportunity came up, add a receiver later. The only receiver that has been added was Chad Johnson.
While Johnson has looked good in camp, he most assuredly is not the player he used to be. According to multiple media sources watching the Dolphins practices, the WR corp as a whole does not look good. In fact one media member observed that at a time when there is no contact in practice, WR’s should dominate. They aren’t. The fact that Miami’s WR’s are struggling is not necessarily an indication that the unit is hopeless and the season is going to be ugly.
Practice is only 3 days old but the fact that reports are out about how bad the receivers are looking, the fact that Brian Hartline doesn’t look like himself, and the reality that the Dolphins simply have nothing more than a couple of number 2 WR’s and slot guys, has fans all over the fansite message boards wondering about Mike Wallace. And rightfully so.
In his three NFL seasons, Wallace has over 3,000 yards receiving and two back to back over 1,000 yard seasons. He has added 24 touchdowns and averages around 18 yards per carry over his career. The former 3rd round selection out of Oregon State has been valuable on the field but some believe he is bordering on becoming a team distraction. Possibly due to his unhappy contract situation. The Steelers this week did him no favors.
Faced with two WR’s needing contracts, the Steelers opted instead to give Antonio Brown a new deal rather than Wallace. The Steelers had offered Wallace a 44 million dollar deal prior to the start of free agency, Wallace not only balked but the rumors swirled that he has looking for Fitzgerald money. This week, the Steelers gave that 44 million dollar deal to Brown. The deal basically is the signature of Wallace’s eventual departure from Pittsburgh. The question is when.
As noted in line one of this article, the Steeler GM says that Wallace is not on the trade block but reality is something different. The Steelers can’t afford to keep two 44 million dollar plus receivers on their roster. Nor can they simply franchise tag Wallace next year and pay him whatever the top tiered yearly average is for the position. While Wallace, should he sign his tender, earn around 2.7 million this season, he will be a free agent next and the Steelers essentially will watch him walk away for nothing.
For now, the market for a trade isn’t dictated. Waiting to see what shakes out with injuries is why Colbert is denying there is a trade block for Wallace. If and when players begin to go down, Wallace will have more value to the Steelers in trade. So while Dolphins fans may be clamoring for a Jeff Ireland phone call to the iron city, it’s likely the calls would not be answered anyways.
The message board chanting of Wallace is not likely to silence so long as the current roster of Dolphins wide-receivers continue to struggle or get better.