In an interview on Sirius XM NFL Radio with Adam Schein and Rich Gannon, Pittsburgh Steelers’ free agent Mike Wallace sounded like a star free agent wide receiver set to test the open market. When asked about the possibility of signing with the San Francisco 49ers or the New England Patriots, Wallace did not shoot down the idea of joining another contender:
“Most definitely. Those are two playoff caliber, Super Bowl caliber teams. All those teams need are that one more piece of the puzzle to put them over the top…I wouldn’t want to go anywhere and leave the situation I’m at, with a great quarterback and a great organization, and go someplace where I don’t feel I can compete (for a championship)”
Schein went on to ask Wallace what his priorities in terms of money, winning, and quarterback/coaching were in free agency, prefacing the question by stating that he understood Wallace would obviously want to be paid:
“I definitely want to get my money; I’m not someone who goes around and says anything about it. I feel like I have done my part for my team, and for the last couple years been at the top of my position. I (also) have to win; you don’t want to leave a team like the Steelers and not win. I don’t want to go to a team and just win two games. A quarterback…I don’t care how good you are, you aren’t going to be good if you don’t have a good quarterback.”
Gannon then asked Wallace about the play of Steelers’ quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, and whether or not Roethlisberger could continue to take the type of hits he has been taking. Wallace said he didn’t see anything wrong with Roethlisberger’s play and whatever happens when he is trying to make a play, you just have to “go with it.”
It is widely speculated the Steelers will be unable to clear the cap space needed to sign the forecasted at least $8M a year needed to retain Wallace. The Steelers have been busy renegotiating several contracts already this off-season, but still remain over the projected $124M NFL salary cap. They would recoup a first round draft pick from any team who signs the restricted free agent receiver, and this may have been the organization’s plan all along. Wallace, a 2009 third round draft pick by Pittsburgh, led the Steelers in receiving in 2010 and 2011 and was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2011.
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