To put it mildly, it would be a shock if the Steelers designated any of their potential unrestricted free agents as the team's franchise player.
It could serve as an indication of which direction the market is headed for a few of those Steelers UFAs though.
The wide receiver market is deep this year, something Mike Wallace may or may not have envisioned when he allegedly rejected a five year, $50 million deal from the Steelers. Greg Jennings, Dwayne Bowe and Wes Welker are all expected to be available on the market, and, like Wallace, won't get the franchise tag, which is approximately $10.3 million for the 2013 season.
The only other Steelers free agent candidate in terms of talent and production who could justify receiving the franchise tag is cornerback Keenan Lewis, but that is also extremely unlikely, given the team's current cap situation. The two sides are reportedly interested in a long-term deal.
Players who are given a team's franchise tag are paid the average of the top five players at their position (or position group, i.e. all offensive linemen have the same tag amount), or 120 percent of the player's previous salary, whichever is greater. That player can negotiate an offer sheet with another team, and signing it means the original team has seven days to match the contract, word for word. Choosing not to match it means the new team must give its next two first round draft picks in exchange.
Approximate Franchise and Transition Tage Amounts by Position
CB: Franchise: $10.668 Transition: $8.939
DE: Franchise: $10.984 Transition: $8.994
DT: Franchise: $8.306 Transition: $6.919
K/P: Franchise: $2.926 Transition: $2.654
LB: Franchise: $9.455 Transition: $8.216
OL: Franchise: $9.660 Transition: $8.560
QB: Franchise: $14.642 Transition: $12.845
RB: Franchise: $8.079 Transition: $6.851
S: Franchise: $6.798 Transition: $5.899
TE: Franchise: $5.962 Transition: $5.105
WR: Franchise: $10.357 Transition: $8.716
*these amounts could change before the start of the free agency period March 12