Last week, word on the street had Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace showing up over the weekend to sign his $2.7 million restricted free-agent tender. It didn't happen Saturday, Sunday or Monday either. But CBSSports.com's Jason La Canfora confirms that Wallace reported to the Steelers' facility Tuesday morning.
Wallace, the team's 2009 third-round pick, missed offseason workouts, training camp and the first three preseason games because he was looking for a long-term deal. While the specifics of what he wanted and what the Steelers offered are unknown, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Mark Kaboly wrote earlier this month that Wallace turned down a five-year, $50 million offer from the organization.
General manager Kevin Colbert subsequently announced that the team wouldn't negotiate with Wallace until he showed up to sign his tender and then the Steelers promptly signed wide receiver Antonio Brown to a six-year, $43 million extension.
Ultimately, Wallace's absence doesn't affect him or the Steelers in the short run. Yes, he's new to Todd Haley's offense, but even if he can't master the playbook (he reportedly picked up a copy this summer), by simply being on the field running go-routes every play will affect how opponents try to defend the Steelers. We're guessing it won't come to that. Partly because Wallace is a veteran who had little trouble as a rookie adjusting to Pittsburgh's offense (he caught 39 passes for 756 yards with six touchdowns). But also because of something former NFL tight end Anthony Becht tweeted Monday:
Days after the 2008 draft, when the Steelers loaded up on skill position players at the expense of the offensive line, coach Mike Tomlin said that there were two ways to stifle a pass rush: with pass blockers and with an explosive offense. For years, he seemed content to go with the latter. Then, in April, the Steelers drafted guard David DeCastro and tackle Mike Adams in the first two rounds. DeCastro suffered a serious knee injury in Pittsburgh's last preseason game and could miss the regular season; and Adams isn't ready to be a starter.
In the meantime, Wallace's return means that the Steelers will again feature an explosive offense while it tries to mask any shortcomings along the o-line. (Though, to be fair, Pittsburgh could have five future Hall of Famers protecting Big Ben and he'd still take unnecessary hits. That's how he rolls.)
This leaves Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew is the last remaining holdout.