Like him or hate him, the Pittsburgh Steelers will miss Mike Wallace a great deal in 2013 and beyond.
Wallace bolted Pittsburgh for the Miami Dolphins, inking a five-year, $60 million deal on the first day of free agency. To date the Steelers have yet to replace his talents and it may be years before they come close to doing so.
But count Steelers’ quarterback Ben Roethlisberger among those that feels that the Steelers will be missing Wallace a great deal when next season starts, as he told TheFinsiders.com that Miami will definitely get their money’s worth out of Wallace.
“Mike is way more,” Roethlisberger said. “It’s to Mike’s credit. Mike is really focused on becoming a better receiver. So he’s focused on his route running. He’s focused on running out-routes, and curl-routes, and in-routes and doing all the little things that’s required to become a great wide receiver. That’s why he, to me, is one of the best in the league, because he not only has that speed – he can run by anybody – but he can run routes and he can get open. That’s why we’re going to miss him, and the Dolphins are lucky to have him.”
“He’s a great teammate, obviously a great player, but I thought he was even better off the field. Just a great guy, great teammate. Miami is very lucky to have him because he’s a great player,” Roethlisberger said.
While Wallace may have alienated the Steelers’ fan base last, the fact remains that his production can’t be replaced.
The Steelers elected to throw money at Antonio Brown instead of Wallace last season and they could ultimately regret that decision down the road. Brown’s production dropped last season as he turned into be among those that could have received the Steelers Least Valuable Player award (there were plenty of candidates).
Now Brown will have to find a way to produce without Wallace on the other side to draw coverage.
That’s going to be a challenge.
In addition to Brown, the Steelers must attempt to replace Wallace with Plaxico Burress Emmanuel Sanders and Jerricho Cotchery, although it is still possible that Sanders could still receive an offer sheet from the New England Patriots that the Steelers won’t be able to match.
With that crew, Roethlisberger won’t be the only one missing Wallace when the season starts.
Whether they want to admit it now or not, Steeler Nation will be missing him as well.