Being that I have nothing more exciting to do with my life than sit around, catch up on episodes of House and read nfl.com articles such as this one I've been thinking a lot about the possibility of losing Mike Wallace. In case you haven't heard, the Steelers are just a little tight on cap space and Wallace is a RFA commanding a first round tender.
The situation isn't pretty to say the least. In the last two season, the third round draft pick from Ole Miss has emerged as an elite WR in the NFL. He is arguably the most lethal deep threat in the NFL, commands additional attention from defenses, and has a huge role in the Steelers offense. The fact Wallace was lining up on the opposite side of Antonio Brown when he broke out this season is not coincidence.
There are probably 15 teams around the AFC that I'm sure would prefer if Mike Wallace were not on the Steelers roster. Cincinnati being in need of a WR to pair with AJ Green and having to play the Steelers twice a year would probably prefer he were not a Steeler. The New England Patriots and their much maligned secondary probably feel the same way.
Given all this information, is it necessarily the worst case scenario if Mike Wallace were to sign elsewhere as a free agent? Yes, the affect on the offense, and a receiving corp that could already use some depth, would be very negative. Starting Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown at WR sounds nice in theory, but that's assuming that Brown is someone who can be productive when he's the focus of a defense, and given last season's issues, that Emmanuel Sanders can stay healthy. Not to mention that makes our 3rd WR... Hines Ward? If they bring him back. Maybe Jericho Cotchery? If they bring him back. Maybe... well, you get the idea.
However, taking all this into account, could worse things happen than Mike Wallace leaving the team? Let's face the facts. The defense isn't getting any younger, and our offensive line, outside of Pouncey and Gilbert, isn't exactly set for next year. The Steelers, in the next three years, will need a starter at NT, ILB, probably OLB (James Harrison isn't getting younger), OG and OT. Depth at CB and S is a concern, and even if Wallace returns, the WR position could use more depth too. That's a lot of needs.
My point with all this is that the Steelers have a lot of needs, and they're typically pretty damn good at filling them through the draft. If Mike Wallace were to leave, the Steelers would land a 1st round pick that would allow them to fill one of those needs. If it's NE, maybe a guy like Vontaze Burfict comes in and sits behind Farrior. Or if it's Cincinnati, maybe that puts them into position to get a G like Cordy Glenn or even David DeCastro. If they're able to fill needs with those two picks, maybe they can move up in the 2nd round to get a WR such as an Alshon Jeffery, Kendall Wright or Michael Floyd if one of them falls (although PaVaSteeler makes a compelling argument against it).
Do I want to lose Mike Wallace? Of course not, he's the best deep threat in the NFL, has good chemistry with Big Ben and he makes our offense better. But I am truly intrigued by having 2 first round draft picks without having to trade out of another position.