It hasn’t been a great year for Pittsburgh Steelers’ wide receiver Mike Wallace.
Beginning with his lengthy holdout and ending with hip and hamstring issues that will keep him out of the Steelers’ finale against the Cleveland Browns, we learned a lot about Wallace this season.
By now, the Wallace fan club has shrunk considerably and based on his performance, or lack thereof, Wallace’s future with the Steelers is really in doubt.
That begs the question of since Wallace won’t be playing this Sunday, has he already played his final game in a Steelers uniform?
The injury brings a premature close to a frustrating season for Wallace, who’s eligible to become a free agent. Wallace sat out all of training camp over a contract dispute and can hit the open market if the Steelers choose not to use their franchise tag on him. When he did finally report, his production dropped off considerably and was plagued by the drops this season.
He wants to be paid like one of the top receivers in the game, but after this season it would be very hard to envision the Steelers throwing that type of money his way.
Someone will. It just likely won’t be the Steelers.
“I don’t know. We’ll see,” Wallace said Friday when asked if he’d re-sign with the Steelers, via The Associated Press. “But I’ve got big plans. No matter what the situation is, I’ve definitely got big plans for myself and my family.”
Wallace finished the season with 64 receptions for 836 yards and eight touchdowns.
Despite that statistical decline, Wallace remains explosive and, at just 26, smack in the prime of his career. He is still the NFL’s best pure speed receiver, but Wallace saw his yards-per-catch average drop in three consecutive years — from 21.0 to 16.6 to 13.1. The Steelers might not want to give him the long-term contract he covets, but there will be a team looking to add a home-run hitter to its offense.
As a player, Wallace can still be a dynamic big play receiver and will be paid as such.
However as a person and a teammate, Wallace has a lot to learn. It’s almost a shame that he will cash in big time after this last year, but that is the way of the NFL.
Hopefully Wallace learned something this year and will handle things differently in the future.
But he probably won’t get the chance to do so with the Steelers.