What the Passing of Friday's RFA Deadline Means to Mike Wallace and the Steelers

PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 24: Mike Wallace #17 of the Pittsburgh Steelers makes a catch against Josh Gordy #38 of the St. Louis Rams during the game on December 24, 2011 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Steelers won 27-0. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

April 20 was a day marked on the calendars of more than just Gratetful Dead fans.

It was the last day other teams could sign Steelers restricted free agent Mike Wallace to an offer sheet. Since that passed, Wallace has no ability to sign with another team barring a trade.

And that's good news for the Steelers.

It mostly means they maintain all the leverage in the ongoing contract negotiation. It was partially true, through Friday, to suggest the Steelers had the leverage anyway, but it was still possible for a team to sacrifice a first-round draft pick for the services of the 2012 Pro Bowl receiver.

Now, other teams can't even do that.

The possibility of a trade has been discussed here and other sites, and it's not out of the question. Wallace, to this point, has kept quiet publicly, which has in turn led to lots of speculation surrounding the stance he's currently taking. The biggest false perception is Wallace not having signed his free agent tender - the way the other Steelers restricted free agents have - is indicative of his desire to skip offseason activities while waiting for a new deal.

It wouldn't make any sense for him to sign it until the restricted free agency period was over (Friday). So through Friday, that perception wasn't provable, but now that argument can be made. We shouldn't expect him to sign, either. The longer he waits on putting himself under contract for the 2012 season, the less likely the Steelers would be to negotiate any kind of deal that would pay him more than $2.7 million for this season.

It's also not typical for Steelers players to hold out during training camp (the time it really matters if a player isn't present), even if they have contract extension expectations. LaMarr Woodley, Lawrence Timmons and Troy Polamalu all received extensions last season early in camp, and all of them reported in good faith.

Until then, both sides will play the waiting game (which as Homer says, sucks, so let's play Hungry, Hungry Hippos instead). The Steelers will progress through the draft, likely without the contract situation acting as any kind of factor into the decisions they'll make in five days. Wallace and Bus Cook, his agent, will continue to remain silent in the public, and both sides will likely re-visit the issue in May, before OTAs.

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