Greetings Mike Wallace. The purpose of this letter is primarily to persuade you to sign your tender and come to camp. In the interests of full disclosure, you deserve to know that I am a huge Steelers fan. Please do not let this taint your opinion of my advice, which is something that I pridefully keep neutral out of respect to those who would listen to me. I do not hold any grudge against you for any perceived harm you have done to the Steelers by holding out thus far.
I believe that it is in your own best interests to sign the RFA tender.
1. Why you haven't signed it yet:
The reason most often given is fear of injury. Objectively, the only reason to hold out is the possibility of decreasing the value of your upcoming big contract.
I believe there is another reason you are not signing the tender (and forgive me for speculating on your personal motives) and that is on principle. I think that it would hurt you emotionally to sign a contract that is worth only 2.7 million when you were hoping to sign one roughly twenty times as lucrative. It surely would hurt my feelings if I were in your shoes.
I think that you may feel some resentment towards the Steelers for not pursuing you more ardently. You did, after all, greatly outperform your rookie contract.
I cannot think of other logical reasons to hold out, but perhaps there is another human reason: the feeling that if you give up now, the holdout so far will have been worthless.
2. Refutations for the aforementioned concerns:
No matter what injury you suffer, there will be a team that will offer you a contract around $50 million in total value. It may not be with the Steelers, but if being a Steeler were your primary concern we might not be in this situation.
The tender sucks compared to your value, there's no getting around that. There is also no getting around the fact that for this season, you have no choice, and the $2.7 million represents more than you've made in your entire career combined up until this point.
The Steelers will not negotiate a contract with any player that is holding out, even if it were Joe Greene in 1975. It is nothing personal; it would simply be bad for business to reward that type of behavior.
The holdout thus far may have gained little, but at the very least you have created a great deal of buzz and the tension from this holdout may have increased your perceived value with many teams.
3. Additional reasons it is a good idea to sign the tender:
You love football. You could have been a track star in college but you didn't even consider it, as football was all you needed. You would be paid millions to play a game that you love, instead of sitting home and cultivating resentment with a potential future employer and millions of fans.
The Steelers are going to compete for a championship this year with or without you, and with you on the team their chances only increase. I can't guarantee a ring, but ask Dan Marino how valuable a chance at an NFL title is.
4. Why it might even be a good idea to take less money to stay in Pittsburgh long term:
If you agent is telling you that the Steelers will pay you more than $50-55 million for 5 years he's lying. Even that amount is a bit of a reach. If you want more than that I understand; if you were an unrestricted free agent you would probably get more than that. Money isn't everything though. There are three things that motivate great men: gold, God, and glory. I'm not Mike Holmgren and therefore can't tell you what God wants. Pittsburgh, however, might represent your best chance at glory: the chance for multiple Super Bowl titles and a Hall of Fame career.
I see you and your resume, Mike Wallace. You already have a fearsome rep and your share of signature moments. Five more Pro Bowl years and a ring and you're in the conversation for a bust. Even a single ring is priceless. The Steelers are loaded on offense with Ben, Brown, and that young offensive line. That will give you one of the best shots in the league at consistent superstar numbers. They're loaded on defense and have a commitment to great defense that will keep them in championship contention. These factors together put the Steelers ahead of any team in the league in the glory category.
Finally, if you do sign a long term contract with the Steelers I will buy your jersey. That's all I've got.