When it comes to severed or troubled relationships, there is a long-held belief that the "no contact" rule is a good way for couples to cool down and perhaps try to patch things up.
"Absence makes the heart grow fonder" is the central theme, and the "no contact" rule is often pretty effective in reuniting couples. But that's in romance. In the NFL, a business where thinking with your heart will often get you into trouble, if a player decides to damage his relationship with his team and hold out for more money, the team isn't going to sit around and cry about it. A general manager or coach isn't going to leave that players' spot vacant while the two sides hammer out a contract. The organization is just going to find the next best option and run him out there until the hold out ends. If the two sides never come to an agreement, life goes on, and that player is replaced permanently.
Wide receiver Mike Wallace is currently in a contract dispute with the Pittsburgh Steelers, and the two sides appear to be worlds apart. Wallace, a restricted free agent, has refused to sign his $2.7 million tender and has yet to report to camp. Third year receiver Emmanuel Sanders is currently in Wallace's spot as the team's X receiver. Is Sanders as good a deep threat as Wallace, arguably the fastest guy in the NFL? No, but every team must employ a deep threat, and not every team has the fastest guy in the league in the role. Yet, somehow, they make do.
"It's pretty good. At the combine, I ran a 4.4. I'm more than capable of getting the job done. Mike has world-class speed, but I got good speed, good speed to get behind any [defensive back], I feel."
That is a quote from Sanders from a story in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, in which he discusses his speed and his confidence in filling Wallace's role if need be.
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin certainly isn't going to sit around and wait for Wallace. He's going to coach up the guys that are at camp and forge ahead, just like most any other coach would do:
"I am less concerned about the negotiations from a coaching standpoint," said Tomlin. "I want the player here. We extended a tender to him but of course, he hasn't signed it. I am focused on the guys here that are working. I won't focus on him until he gets here."
The Steelers organization, as a whole, may have decided to move on from Wallace entirely on Friday evening when they gave third year receiver Antonio Brown a five year contract extension worth $42.5 million.
The extension to Brown may have been a message to Wallace that, "Hey, we want different things, and maybe it's best that we go separate ways. We found someone else who is worthy of the type of money you are asking for."
You have to figure that Wallace is asking for more than what Brown agreed to. I personally can't envision the Steelers paying two receivers upwards of around $90 million. "Young Money" is one thing, but "Big Money"? I don't know about that.
Sometimes, in relationships, if you're unwilling to compromise, your partner may just decide to move on and find someone new. In the NFL, teams must always move forward no matter the circumstances, and sometimes, they may decide to move on from a player who is holding out. The Steelers may have moved on with Antonio Brown, and Mike Wallace might have to find another team to make him feel appreciated.