Over the last two seasons, Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace has emerged as one of the top big-play threats in the league. But coming off a second-straight 1,100-yard season and his first Pro Bowl selection, Wallace may be on his way out of the Steel City.
The 25-year-old speedster is scheduled to become a free agent on March 3, and with facing serious salary-cap challenges ahead of them, the Steelers simply may not be able to afford him.
Wallace acknowledged that fact in an interview with SiriusXM Radio on Wednesday.
“[Pittsburgh is] where I would like to be, but we all know that it is a business and you have certain things you have to handle," Wallace told Sirius NFL Radio, via the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "So if I have to go elsewhere, you know Pittsburgh will always be in my heart, but I have to do what I have to do."
The Steelers could use the franchise tag on Wallace in order to keep him under contract for another season, but that would result in a hefty $9.6 million salary cap hit that would further hamstring the team for the 2012 season.
With 2011 team MVP Antonio Brown set to become a restricted free agent after next season, Pittsburgh could find it difficult to justify two major investments in receivers with similar skillsets. Emmanuel Sanders is also up for free agency in 2013.
If Wallace hits the market, there will no doubt be plenty of teams vying for the services of a player who averaged nearly 19 yards per reception in his first three seasons. The New England Patriots and San Francisco 49ers are two of a number of championship contenders who could use another vertical threat.
“Most definitely. Those are two playoff caliber teams. Super Bowl caliber teams,” Wallace said when asked about whether he would be interested in playing for the Patriots or 49ers. “I think that the right person or the right piece for those guys could put them over the top. All they need is one more piece ... most definitely, those are Super Bowl contending teams.”
Should the Steelers part ways with Wallace, or is he too valuable to let go? If they don’t resign him, where do you think he’ll end up?
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