Mike Wallace, the talented Steelers WR, is poised to end his holdout, according to several sources, including Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Wallace, a restricted free agent, has missed training camp and the first two preseason games after refusing to sign the $2.7 million tender offered to him by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Wallace had preferred to sign a long-term contract instead, while the Steelers had demanded that Wallace sign the tender before negotiating any longer-term deal.
Could the Mike Wallace holdout actually be a positive thing for the Steelers? Conventional wisdom says no, but in this case—at least in the short term—conventional wisdom could be wrong.
Wallace’s ill-conceived game of contract chicken with the Rooneys and Steelers management was destined to fail from the start. The Steelers have a long and storied history of not bending to pressure from players in negotiations like this one.
It is clear that Wallace wants to get paid and thinks he deserves to be paid like a top-10 receiver in the NFL. Having failed—predictably—in forcing the Steelers hand by holding out, the only play for Wallace to get paid is to play and play well.
To get the payday he thinks he deserves, Wallace will have to play like a game-changing top-10 WR. Wallace will be motivated to put up the numbers on the field that will land him the big, long-term contract he so badly wants.
For the Steelers, a motivated Mike Wallace could be a powerful weapon in their offensive arsenal.
Conventional wisdom, however, says that holdouts are generally not good for the team. I mean, if holdouts were a good thing, everyone would be doing it, right? Usually, the conventional wisdom is right—holdouts aren’t a good thing, short-term or long-term. In the case of Wallace and the Steelers, however, many of the short-term concerns with a holdout simply don’t apply.
First, the Steelers can expect Wallace to report in shape. He hasn’t simply been golfing during his holdout, Wallace has been working out with a trainer in Orlando, Fla.
Second, while hard feelings may exist between Wallace and Steelers management, such feelings will not extend to his teammates. Indeed, Ben Roethlisberger has made it clear how happy he will be to have Mike Wallace back in the fold, according to Chuck Finder of CBS Sports.
Third, speaking of Big Ben, with all of the changes that Ben has experienced this offseason—the retirement of Hines Ward, the departure of close friend and Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, and the hiring of new offensive coordinator Todd Haley—Ben needs his safety blanket back.
Everyone knows how much Ben likes to throw the deep ball, and there is no one in black and gold he loves to throw it to more than Mike Wallace.
Fourth, while most players need time in camp to learn a new playbook under a new offensive coordinator, that might not necessarily be the case for Wallace. He's not a renowned route-runner; he's a speedster. Whether it's Bruce Arians' playbook or Todd Haley’s playbook, or heck, even my playbook, the game plan for Wallace will be largely the same—run downfield, get open and get the ball.
There is no debate that, long-term, the Mike Wallace holdout will likely be a loser for the Steelers. No matter what Wallace does on the field this year, it is more likely than not that his next payday comes from another team. In the short-term, however, the Mike Wallace holdout could actually help the Steelers.