SAN DIEGO CA - DECEMBER 16: Wide receiver Vincent Jackson #83 of the San Diego Chargers celebrates scoring a touchdown in the first quarter against the San Francisco 49ers at Qualcomm Stadium on December 16 2010 in San Diego California. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
Steelers CB Ike Taylor should be on WR Mike Wallace's payroll, with the amount of speaking he's done for his teammate this offseason.
The most recent occurrence, at his 9th annual "Face Me, Ike" camp at Arden Cahill Academy in Gretna, La., where Taylor grew up, mirrors a bit of what he said on his TribLive Radio show in May; optimism a deal will get done, but recognition it's all a part of the process.
So is this just lip service?
NFL.com's Brian McIntyre makes an interesting point; Wallace is under "club control" for the next two seasons, with the restricted free agency offer he's been given, and a potential franchise tag in 2013. Together, McIntyre estimates the maximum the Steelers would have to pay to retain Wallace for the next two seasons is $12.5 million.
All of that would be guaranteed. Because of that, the $12.5 million figure would likely be where both sides would start negotiating. By Wallace holding out training camp instead of signing his $2.7 million tender offer this year, he'd further jeopardize that number increasing through negotiations with the Steelers.
However, he knows, barring injury, those are the relative values of the two consecutive 1-year deals he'd get, with the second one being a salary cap-killing $10 million, give or take a few bucks.
I've opined Wallace's agent, Bus Cook (the same agent who negotiated Lions WR Calvin Johnson's mega-deal this offseason) will likely seek a number north of what Tampa Bay gave Vincent Jackson this offseason - five years, $55 million total value, $26 million of that is guaranteed, all in the first two years of the deal.
Wallace has a bit better overall numbers than Jackson does, but more than anything, what you see with Jackson is Wallace's future. Jackson got caught in the lockout year, when the elimination of the salary cap meant players needed six accrued years to become eligible for free agency. Jackson had five, and was given the high-level tender offer from San Diego, the same way Pittsburgh did with Wallace.
Jackson not only skipped training camp in 2010, but skipped the first seven games, before reporting to the team in time to serve a three-game suspension for his absence by general manager A.J. Smith. The Chargers exercised their right to reduce Jackson's tender offer to 110 percent of his previous salary, something the Steelers elected to not do (perhaps because they saw how poorly that strategy worked out with Jackson) with Wallace.
Jackson was given the franchise tag in 2011, earning around $11 million - up from the $300,000 he made in 2010.
Or, just a bit less than the club control figure the Steelers have on Wallace.
We won't know if the report suggesting Wallace wanted a contract in the vicinity of Larry Fitzgerald is legitimate or not, but Jackson's battle and ensuing contract with Tampa Bay strongly suggests he'd be looking for somewhere around five years, $58 million with $30 million guaranteed. The Steelers do not appear to be in a cap position to front-load the deal, thus making it easier to cut ties with him quickly if things don't work out in the first two years. Spreading that much money out over at least four years of the deal would make future deals with other players a bit more difficult.
Many teams will look to make huge lump-sum guaranteed payments to players in certain years, hoping to limit the future cap damage of a big contract followed by an injury or lack of performance. That's what Tampa Bay did with Jackson - a twice convicted DUI offender. Tampa also had more money in cap space than the gross domestic product of many third-world countries. The Steelers do not.
So as optimistic as Taylor may be about his buddy and fellow Louisiana native, the numbers paint a bleaker picture.