So Mike Wallace Isn't Attending OTAs, What's the Problem?

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 08: Mike Wallace #17 of the Pittsburgh Steelers runs the ball for a touchdown in the third quarter 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)

Most people are aware Steelers WR Mike Wallace is not attending OTAs. Most are even more keenly aware he's doing it because he wants a contract extension, and not the $2.7 million restricted free agent tender offer the Steelers have given him.

There seems to be a split in SteelerNation on whether Wallace is doing the right thing - or even the ethical one. Turns out, there's a long list of Steelers who will not graduate OTAs with 100 percent attendance.

The Tribune-Review reported neither DE Brett Keisel nor CB Ike Taylor were in attendance for Day One of Phase One of OTAs. It's likely not for contractual-conflict reasons, but rather, something personal and probably understandable.

Wallace, though, is apparently committing some kind of crime, in the eyes of many.

At this point in the offseason schedule, coaches cannot work directly with players anyway. Any "work" they're doing in regards to the playbook is running un-defended routes without a pass rush. Any nuances of an offense gleaned from practice against air in shells had sure not be anything the players wouldn't have gathered on their own.

OTAs are nothing more than a way for the guys to get back together, discuss a few things regarding the game, stretch out and run a bit, pose for a few pictures and go over to someone's place to grill and enjoy the summer. These are not highly competitive, it's silly to suggest positions will be won and lost during this time.

Personally, I think the whole concept of OTAs has been lost on the media, who starve for NFL-related news this time of the year, and the whole thing has become overblown, but I digress.

It's not that Wallace - or any other veteran - doesn't need to attend, but...they don't need to attend. Besides, if Wallace is serious about wanting "Fitzgerald money," (a report that has yet to be substantiated by Wallace or his agent, Bus Cook, which doesn't mean it's either true or untrue) the team should get used to him missing OTAs in Pittsburgh next year, and minicamp, training camp and Weeks 1-17.

All that matters is if he shows up for Training Camp. He's only hurting himself by choosing not to attend that, and it would seem unlikely his agent would suggest he take that route.

If there's an intriguing part to this, it's the Steelers' full team minicamp is scheduled for June 12-14, or, the three days before Wallace must sign his tender offer or risk having it substantially reduced. The deadline for the team to exercise that collectively-bargained right is June 15, so Wallace could choose to skip minicamp as well, before signing his offer.

All he needs to do is look at recent history to see his best option; LaMarr Woodley, Troy Polamalu and Lawrence Timmons all inked extensions quickly into training camp in 2011. Signing it June 15 and insisting upon continued negotiations through training camp is his best - and most likely - course of action. That's how the business side works. Neither the team nor Wallace are in the wrong at this point.

And certainly, he can run uncovered routes on his own somewhere else.


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