DENVER, CO - JANUARY 08: Doug Legursky #64 of the Pittsburgh Steelers gets ready to snap the ball against the Denver Broncos during the AFC Wild Card Playoff game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January 8, 2012 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
As expected, the Steelers officially gave WR Mike Wallace the high level tender offer of $2.7 million for one season, the restricted free agency level allowing the Steelers to receive a first-round draft pick in compensation should Wallace sign with another team.
Steelers General Manager Kevin Colbert has said his priority with Wallace is to get him signed to a long-term deal. This is the first step in that process.
Just about all of the Steelers' other restricted free agents - CB Keenan Lewis, Gs Doug Legursky and Ramon Foster, TE David Johnson and FS Ryan Mundy - received original round tender offers, which are worth one year for $1.26 million.
Lewis was a third-round selection, Johnson was a seventh and Mundy was a sixth. Legursky and Foster were not drafted, therefore, would carry with them no compensation.
OL Jamon Meredith was not given a tender offer, and is now an unrestricted free agent.
The compensation would deter a team from making a run at Lewis, Mundy or Johnson, and while the lack of compensation for Legursky and Foster - the starting guards currently in Pittsburgh's depth chart - may be attractive for other teams, the Steelers still carry the right of first refusal, meaning they could match any offer given by anyone else. Provided the offer is reasonable, it's likely the Steelers would match it.
It's unlikely another team would offer a multi-year deal to either Legursky or Foster.
It's worth noting teams do not pursue the restricted free agents of other teams very often. The most notable is probably Patriots WR Wes Welker, in 2007, when the Dolphins gave him a second-round tender offer, and the Patriots eventually traded a second round and seventh round pick for Welker. Technically he wasn't signed away from the Dolphins, but the Patriots added the seventh round pick as a way to not let Welker reach the open market.
The lack of movement with restricted free agents is the main reason why the compensation for the high level tender was reduced from a first and a third round pick to just the first in the new collective bargaining agreement.
Wallace is no doubt an attractive option for many teams, but having to give up a first-round pick along with signing Wallace to an offer sheet the Steelers wouldn't match (i.e. it'd likely have to be above his market value) is quite a price to pay. Ideally, the Steelers would like to get Wallace signed to a long-term deal before restricted free agents are allowed to sign offer sheets (March 17).