Wallace will become a restricted free agent in three weeks — and the new rule for restricted free agents means that any team wanting to sign him would have to give the Steelers a first-round pick rather than the first- and third-round picks of the past.
That’s good for teams that need a receiver and are far under the salary cap. It’s not good for the Steelers, who can’t just put the franchise tag on him. He would command about $9 million and the team already is about $10 million over the cap, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Choices don’t get any easier next year, when the Steelers will face the same problem with Antonio Brown, the team’s 2011 MVP, and Emmanuel Sanders.
It’s possible that the Steelers will decide that Wallace is just too important to lose, and will franchise him before March 3, making painful choices elsewhere to keep him. Or not. After all, they have depth at Wallace’s position and he faded late in the season, just as Brown was rising.
What’s the smart move in Pittsburgh? Should the Steelers keep Wallace at all costs or risk losing him to, say, the New England Patriots or Baltimore Ravens?