This has been a huge sports news week in Pittsburgh, and to cap it off tomorrow the Pittsburgh Penguins will announce the official signing of Sidney Crosby to a new 12-year mega-contract with the franchise. From a fans perspective, maybe Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace should take note.
From the outset it was clear that the Penguins wanted to keep Crosby in the fold and those feelings were mutual from him. Widely considered the best player in the NHL (even with the concussion history), Crosby left money on the table in his new deal. This was not only important due to his history; it ensured that the Penguins would have the ability to pursue outside free agents with room under the league mandated salary cap. Again, Crosby wanted to not only be in Pittsburgh, he wanted to win in Pittsburgh.
This is where the Wallace situation differs, and the truth needs to be said, Wallace is not interested in staying with the Steelers or winning in Pittsburgh, he is concerned with the size of the check. Honestly, there is no other way of viewing it. From the outset of free agency, the Steelers have stated publically that Wallace was a priority, and they want to work out a long-term deal. Unfortunately, the disgruntled wide receiver has not said the same thing. In fact, all the fans and media have heard were about his outrageous salary request when the San Francisco 49ers made overtures to his availability before the draft.
While the ongoing negotiations between the two sides have been confidential to this point, the one thing that can almost be assured is the Steelers have offered Wallace what they feel is fair market value for his services. Just what is fair market value is a good question, but it certainly is nowhere near the number that was floated to the 49ers and why should it be?
Wallace is far from the best wide receiver in the NFL. Yes, he has speed to challenge teams deep, but he has a limited route tree and has shown shaky hands at times. On top of that, he disappeared for a large chunk of last season. Sure, he can blame injuries to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, or double teams from opposing defenses, but the top tier wide outs deal with situations like that and still produce at an extremely high level and at times even put up bigger numbers.
Not only did Wallace not do that, he basically became a fast decoy down the stretch. In fact, one look back at the disappointing loss to the Denver Broncos in the playoffs will show that Wallace was invisible at crunch time, and when the game was on the line, Roethlisberger looked at veteran Hines Ward (fifth on the depth chart at the time) instead in the closing seconds. If Wallace believes he is worth the same money as Larry Fitzgerald or Calvin Johnson, maybe he should produce like them in the clutch.
In fact, if Wallace wants to really stay with the Steelers, maybe he should take a queue from Crosby and get a deal done. Yes, the sports are different, but there are similarities in contractual obligations and salary cap usage. Honestly, if the best player in that league can get a deal done even with injury risks, an above average one trick pony in the NFL should be able to get one done.
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