In wake of Antonio Brown's contract extension, speculation is flying about WR Mike Wallace's future in Pittsburgh, whether as a holdout, an active participant of the Steelers or as trade bait.
According to Kevin Colbert (via NFL.com's Ed Werder), Wallace isn't available to anyone via trade.
Leverage move or legitimate statement?
It's tough to not ask the question of whether a trade is in Wallace's future, as he holds out from training camp, refusing to sign his restricted free agency tender. The last disgruntled split end the Steelers dealt with, Santonio Holmes in 2010, was traded to the New York Jets for a 5th round pick. Incidentally, Wallace was Holmes' replacement, and the draft pick they received was parlayed into CB Bryant McFadden and the Arizona Cardinals' 6th round pick, which was used to draft Brown.
Responding to trade rumors involving multiple teams, Steelers GM Kevin Colbert flatly tells me, "Mike Wallace is not available for trade."— Ed Werder (@Edwerderespn) July 29, 2012
With that kind of return on a trade, one might be inclined to think the Steelers would want to pull the chain on a deal. Wallace, who isn't facing a four-game suspension the way Holmes was before the 2010 season, has considerably higher value than Holmes did.
The Steelers dealt Holmes for a 5th round pick, despite being likely to have received a third round compensatory pick in the 2012 draft (compensatory picks are awarded a year behind, meaning if Holmes would have stayed in Pittsburgh in 2010 and played the final year of his deal the Steelers' compensatory pick for his departure would have been given in 2012). The Steelers felt better about getting a 5th round pick in 2010 (he was traded two weeks before the 2010 Draft) than a third in 2012.
Wallace will have to sign his tender and play no later in the year than Week 10. Under the CBA, a player must report to his team for the final six games of the year in order to earn an accrued season toward free agency. Getting Wallace for six games and letting him walk after the season would give the Steelers six games plus the playoffs of an outstanding receiver, plus, assuming Wallace signs somewhere for high-level money (a fair assumption), they will receive a third-round compensatory pick (highest possible) in 2014.
It's tough to envision a scenario, barring injury, where Wallace would fetch a higher price than that, considering any potential suitor would have to sign him to an extension - the lack of it is why he's holding out in the first place.
He could garner a second round pick, and that second round pick would come sooner (2013) than the compensatory third round pick (2014), but the Steelers would be without Wallace's service for this season.
Where Colbert is right now, he has to think optimistically about Wallace reporting and getting to work. However, one issue with that is now Tampa Bay WR Vincent Jackson, who held out in San Diego in 2010, and eventually got a big contract, so it's tough to say Wallace will lose money by holding out.
Of course, all of this changes if he simply reports to camp today. Odds of that happening, though, don't seem real high.