By Joe Munley
He is unhappy because no team was willing to enter into negotiations with him after he made the bold declaration that he wanted Larry Fitzgerald money, and I don’t think any rational football fan out there would begrudge those would-be suitors for not wanting to offer up that kind of cash for a guy with such a limited resume.
I will give Wallace this much: Statistically, the first three years of his career are almost identical to Fitzgerald’s first three years in the league. Unfortunately for Mike Wallace – and his agent’s rationale, no doubt – Fitz did not get his monstrous deal based on those first three years, he earned that deal over the course of an 8-year career that has now tipped into Hall of Fame territory.
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Consider this, Larry Fitzgerald has amassed four seasons of 1,400+ receiving yards, four seasons with 95 catches or more, four seasons with 10 or more touchdown grabs, and four seasons with at least 65 catches that gave his team a first down. Finally, the man has missed a grand total of 4 games during his 8-year career. Not only is he elite, but he is elite every single day. He put in his time and got rewarded for it.
Wallace is a deep threat… and that is where the honest comparisons with Larry Fitzgerald should stop. He has a ways to go before he can be considered a complete NFL receiver let alone a WR of Fitzgerald’s caliber. Wallace is great at stretching the field and he does give Roethlisberger the home run threat that he covets, but he doesn’t do enough of the small things yet to warrant a contract of Fitzgerald proportions.
Here’s the rub: Wallace will sign the tender whether he’s happy or not because the alternative would be idiotic. As of right now, Wallace can sign the tender and receive $2.7 million or he can play mind games until the June 15th deadline to sign the tender passes & the Steelers will be within their rights to pay him $577,500 for his services.
Art Rooney II is on record as saying that the team wants to give Wallace a long term deal, and I think they did the right thing by not putting the franchise tag on him. They’ve bought time to negotiate with Wallace & their gamble to allow him to dangle out there as a restricted free agent also proved to Wallace that there aren’t any other teams willing to pay him the kind of money he [his agent] thinks he deserves… Yet.
Wallace needs to realize where he is. He’s in Pittsburgh, and he happens to play for a team that has had absolutely no problem letting high profile receivers leave no matter how important a piece they were to the offense. The front office people have shown a strong knack for replacing those irreplaceable receivers through shrewd draft picks. Plaxico Burress and Santonio Holmes can attest to that, and Wallace should take note of it.
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