Steelers Free Agency 2012: No Franchise Tag For Mike Wallace

The Steelers have been clearing cap space as free agency approaches on March 13. Mike Wallace, restricted free agent, did not receive the franchise tag.

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Mike Wallace Looking For Larry Fitzgerald Money, According To Report

The Pittsburgh Steelers offered a first-round tender to restricted free agent Mike Wallace and some were thinking he could see some interest from other teams. A team would have to offer him a contract that the Steelers wouldn't match, and then give up a first-round pick, in order to acquire him. Considering Wallace is a rising star in the NFL, a first-round pick is enticing.

The San Francisco 49ers and other teams have called about Wallace, according to the Sacramento Bee, but there hasn't been any activity outside of that. Apparently, Wallace is looking for a lot of money -- like Larry Fitzgerald money.

A league source said that Wallace, 25, wants a contract that surpasses the eight-year, $120 million deal that Larry Fitzgerald signed last year with the Cardinals. Combine that with the first-round pick any team that signs Wallace to an offer sheet would lose if the Steelers didn't match the offer, and you start to understand why we've heard so little about Wallace in the last week and a half.

I'd be curious who the source is on this. If it's someone connected to the Steelers, then you have to wonder if this is Pittsburgh's way of scaring off other teams so they won't make a run at Wallace.

Or maybe the Steelers receiver really does want to be paid that well. Fitzgerald received his big pay day after he'd been in the league for seven seasons and clearly demonstrated he was one of the top two receivers in the NFL. Wallace, meanwhile, has only been in the league for three seasons. He has a lot of potential but he's less of a sure thing than Fitzgerald was last year when he signed his massive contract extension.

Wallace should be paid well because he's young and you pay for future performance, not past performance. But Fitzgerald money should be reserved for the truly elite receivers, like Calvin Johnson. I don't see Wallace fitting into that category, yet.

For more on the Steelers, visit Behind The Steel Curtain and SB Nation Pittsburgh.


Steelers Free Agency 2012: Pittsburgh Working Through The Salary Cap

The Pittsburgh Steelers went 12-4 for the second year in a row in the regular season in 2011 but they lost their first playoff game to the Denver Broncos in an overtime shocker. While the Steelers had a solid record, they were far from perfect. Unfortunately for them, they're going to fight an uphill battle heading into the 2012 season, especially in free agency. Some of the bigger name players that will be leaving the Steelers in 2012 are Hines Ward and James Farrior, who were both released to get back under the cap space. No. 1 wide receiver Mike Wallace is also a restricted free agent and

When it comes to team needs, the Steelers are in desperate need of a guard to help protect Ben Roethlisberger. Big Ben played the last few games of the season injured, including the team's playoff game, and was pressured constantly in 2011. The offensive line has been a problem in Pittsburgh and if they want to stay a step ahead of teams like the Bengals and Browns, who both have up-and-coming defenses, they need to fix that problem. The Steelers also need help at inside linebacker, at wide receiver and on the defensive line.

The Steelers are in a little trouble when it comes to free agency. They're high enough above the salary cap that they are actually purging players just to get back to zero. While they need a guard, inside linebacker and depth at safety, they don't have the money to make a major impact in free agency. The Steelers will likely do most of their team building in the upcoming draft instead.

For more free agency updates, head to SB Nation's Steelers blog, Behind The Steel Curtain.

Restricted Free Agent Mike Wallace Receives Tender From Pittsburgh Steelers

The Pittsburgh Steelers have issued tenders for their restricted free agents including WR Mike Wallace, CB Keenan Lewis, S Ryan Mundy, TE David Johnson, G Doug Legursky and G Ramon Foster. The big one in there is Wallace, who presumably received the first-round tender.

As a restricted free agent, the first-round tender would guarantee him about $2.7 million in 2012. However, as a restricted free agent, another team can potentially swoop in and sign him. If a team, like the Patriots, offered Wallace a contract and the Steelers declined to match it, they could give up a first-round pick and acquire him.

The Steelers have had some salary cap concerns, which is why some wonder whether a big contract the Steelers couldn't match would allow Wallace to leave Pittsburgh. The Steelers, for their part, are confident they'll be able to match any offers that may come their way.

The restricted free agency period will end on April 20 so the Steelers can't rest easy until then. For more on the Steelers, visit Behind The Steel Curtain and SB Nation Pittsburgh.


Mike Wallace Doesn't Get Franchise Tag From Pittsburgh Steelers

The deadline to apply the franchise tag came and went on Monday afternoon and the Pittsburgh Steelers stood flat. This means that receiver Mike Wallace did not receive the franchise tag. Instead, the Steelers are expected to place a first- round tender on him.

The first-round tender means that any team can offer him a contract and, if the Steelers choose not to match. they can give the Steelers a first round pick in exchange for Wallace. The previous CBA set the highest tender level at first and third round picks but the new CBA drops that to just a first round pick so there's some concern out there that a team will offer Wallace a big deal that the Steelers can't match.

Pittsburgh has been restructuring multiple contracts in the past few weeks to create cap space so they're in better shape than they were even a week ago. They're confident they'll be able to keep Wallace in Pittsburgh.

For more on the Steelers, visit SB Nation's Steelers blog, Behind The Steel Curtain. And for more on Pittsburgh sports, check out SB Nation Pittsburgh.


Chris Kemoeatu Gets His Walking Papers From The Steelers

The Pittsburgh Steelers continue to clean house this offseason. Hines Ward, Aaron Smith and James Farrior all appear to be on their way out, and Mike Wallace may soon be parting ways with the team as well. The latest news is that the Steelers have released another member of their 2011 team.

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Ed Bouchette of the Post-Gazette reports that guard Chris Kemoeatu has been cut by the Steelers to free up some more cap room. Kemoeatu would have been owed $3.6 million by the team in 2012, so Pittsburgh will be saving a significant amount of money with the move. The money from this and other cuts is expected to be used in order to tender a contract offer for Wallace.

For more on the Steelers, visit SB Nation's Steelers blog, Behind The Steel Curtain. And for more on Pittsburgh sports, check out SB Nation Pittsburgh.


James Farrior On His Way Out; Steelers Plan To Cut Him

The Pittsburgh Steelers reportedly made the decision this week to release longtime defensive end Aaron Smith, who had been with the team for over a decade. And now they'll do the same to another longtime defensive player. According to agent Ralph Cindrich, the Steelers are releasing linebacker James Farrior.

Originally a 1997 NFL draft pick by the Jets, Farrior first arrived in Pittsburgh prior to the 2002 season. He's remained in Pittsburgh ever since as a starter. At 37 years old, this move isn't a surprise. He was due to make nearly $3 million and the Steelers are still trying to cut cap space. His agent recognized earlier this week that he was likely to be cut.

The Steelers are getting rid of a ton of experience this week. Hines Ward was released after starting with the team in 1998. Aaron Smith is out and he came to Pittsburgh in 1999. And now there's Farrior, who has been in Pittsburgh for a decade.

For more on the Steelers, visit SB Nation's Steelers blog, Behind The Steel Curtain. And for more on Pittsburgh sports, check out SB Nation Pittsburgh.


Longtime Steeler Aaron Smith To Be Released, According To Report

The Pittsburgh Steelers will be saying goodbye to one of the great defensive ends in the storied history of their defense. NFL Network's Jason La Canfora is reporting the Steelers will release Aaron Smith, who has been with the team since 1999.

Smith was originally the Steelers' fourth round pick in the 1999 NFL draft, coming out of Northern Colorado. He was a mainstay in the Steelers defense within a year and held that spot until injuries started derailing large portions of his last three seasons. He ends his Pittsburgh career with two Super Bowl victories.

Smith's 2011 season ended due to injury, but back in January he was said to be healthy. It's unclear if he'll continue playing again. At 36 years old, and repeated injuries over the last three years, it's quite possible he's done.

For more on the Steelers, visit SB Nation's Steelers blog, Behind The Steel Curtain. And for more on Pittsburgh sports, check out SB Nation Pittsburgh.


Hines Ward, Steelers Will Part Ways

The Pittsburgh Steelers announced on Wednesday that longtime receiver Hines Ward will not be back with the team next season. Ward's contract is up so this can't be considered a major shock, but he's been with the team for 14 years.

Ward has spent his entire career with the Steelers since he joined the team back in 1998. He's been one of the most productive and consistent receivers in history with over 12,000 yards and 85 touchdowns in his NFL career. He is the Pittsburgh franchise leader in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns.

Via the Steelers release:

"We had a conversation today with Hines Ward and informed him that we plan to release him of his contract prior to the start of the 2012 NFL calendar year," Steelers President Art Rooney II told the team's website,

"Hines has been an integral part of our success since we drafted him in 1998 and we will forever be grateful for what he has helped us achieve. He has meant so much to this organization, both on and off the field, and we appreciate his efforts over the past 14 years. Hines' accomplishments are numerous, and he will always be thought of as one of the all-time great Steelers. We wish him nothing but the best."

Retirement rumors followed Ward earlier this year but he has denied them. It's unclear what his plans are moving forward. The Steelers made the right football decision here, as Ward's skills were declining and the team had clearly moved on given how his role decreased throughout the season. Ward is 36 years old and may have trouble generating much interest from other teams in free agency.

For more on Hines Ward and the Pittsburgh Steelers, visit SB Nation's Steelers blog Behind The Steel Curtain. And for more on Pittsburgh sports, visit SB Nation Pittsburgh.


Casey Hampton Will Return To Steelers In 2012

Despite Casey Hampton undergoing offseason ACL surgery, the Pittsburgh Steelers sound like they are intent on bringing back their nose tackle. Hampton did not miss any games because of the injury and was initially hoping that rest and rehab would cure the ailment, but doctors determined surgery was necessary late last month. There was rampant speculation that the Steelers would cut Hampton.

Hampton was a key part of the Steelers' defense in 2011, although his numbers don't really show it. The 325-pounder started 12 of the 13 games in which he played. He didn't register a sack and only had 31 tackles, numbers consistent with his previous 10 NFL seasons. But the Steelers were the top scoring defense in the league, allowed the fewest yards per game and were the eighth-best team against the run.

For more on the Hampton's situation, be sure to check out Steelers blog Behind the Steel Curtain.


Steelers GM Hopes To Keep Mike Wallace One Way Or Another

Pittsburgh Steelers GM Kevin Colbert spoke to reporters at the 2012 NFL Combine on Thursday and to no one's surprise the biggest topic of conversation was the future of wide receiver Mike Wallace, who is a restricted free agent.

Colbert sounded optimistic that he would be able to keep Wallace with the team in 2012. The team plans to place a first round tender on him but didn't rule out using the franchise tag either.

Reports have said there is some concern among the Steelers organization that they could lose Wallace in restricted free agency.

The new CBA brought along with it some tweaks to the restricted free agency system. Instead of the first and third round tender, the highest tender is now just a first round, which has the Steelers concerned that if they tendered Wallace, another team could legitimately scoop in and offer him a deal the Steelers can't match.

The Steelers, if they tendered him, would have the option to match any contract offer he receives. But with the salary cap issues, there are concerns they may not have enough cap space to do so. Still, Colbert talked as if Wallace would be back with the team next season.

For more on the Steelers, visit SB Nation's Steelers blog, Behind The Steel Curtain.


Steelers Free Agency: Some Concern Over Losing Mike Wallace

The Pittsburgh Steelers have a number of free agents heading into the 2012 NFL offseason but none are more important than wide receiver Mike Wallace. With just three years of service in the league, Wallace is a restricted free agent, which means the Steelers have some control of his rights.

They could place the franchise tag on him, which would guarantee he stays off the market. But Pittsburgh has serious salary cap concerns and it's unclear if they could afford to tag him.

If they can't franchise tag him then they would likely place a first round tender on him as a restricted free agent. And NFL Network's Jason La Canfora reported that there is concern within the organization that they could lose him if that's what it comes down to.

A first round tender would mean that another team could give up a first round pick in order to pry Wallace away from Pittsburgh. The Steelers would have a chance to match a contract offer from another team but with their salary cap situation they could be limited.

Thus, the Steelers very well could be in danger of losing Wallace, which is why the Steelers are concerned. It'll be interesting to see if Wallace draws any interest on the restricted free agent market. You wonder if a team like the Bengals, who have two first round picks, would consider Wallace. Or even the Patriots, who need a deep threat. I can see why Pittsburgh would be concerned.

For more on the Steelers offseason, be sure to check out Behind the Steel Curtain.


Steelers GM: No Decision On Hines Ward Yet

The Pittsburgh Steelers could have a very different look in 2012. In addition to revealing that the team is not very confident that Rashard Mendenhall can be back early next year, General Manager Kevin Colbert said no decision has been made on wide receiver Hines Ward, or any other veteran free agents (via Pittsburgh Post-Gazzette).

"To this current point, no final decisions have been made," Colbert said of Ward and all the veteran players. "We've had several discussions internally. We're right in the midst of our free agent evaluations of other teams' free agents. We'll meet on those [on the Steelers roster] starting Thursday and carry through Monday."

If the team were to allow Ward to leave, they would be bidding farewell to a player who has come to largely define the Steelers since joining them in 1998. The 35-year-old has accumulated more than 12,000 receiving yards and scored 86 touchdowns during his 14-year career.

He's also coming off the least productive year since his rookie campaign. Despite playing in 15 games, he made just 46 catches for 381 yards and two touchdowns. Those were all career lows, excluding his rookie year. Ward reportedly made about $3 million and had a cap hit of $3.6 million. Clearly, the Steelers will be looking to drastically reduce those figures.

For more on Ward's future, be sure to check out Steelers blog Behind the Steel Curtain.


Mike Wallace Could Get Franchise Tag From Pittsburgh Steelers

Mike Wallace has put together a pair of pretty productive seasons, going over 1,000 yards receiving for the Pittsburgh Steelers the past two years. Pittsburgh's front office wants to watch Wallace do that in the future, too, and they're apparently willing to extend their franchise tag in order to keep him in a Steelers uniform.

Hines Ward might not be back next season and there are a few other wide receivers who aren't quite sure of their status for next season, but Wallace is probably going to be in Pittsburgh for the long run. General manager Kevin Colbert spoke to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review about Wallace's future with the team:

Any of our young players that have opportunities of getting contracts elsewhere, especially when they're young, ascending players, sure we want to keep them and they all become priorities. Certainly Mike has done a lot to establish himself as a Pro Bowl receiver and we want to try to keep Mike here for the long run.

If the team does indeed to go the route of franchise tagging Wallace, SB Nation Pittsburgh has the details on what it would mean:

A franchise tag would pay Wallace a little bit less than $10 million and give the Steelers exclusive negotiating rights to try and iron out a long-term deal. They can also extend a first-round tender worth less than $3 million, but that would enable Wallace to negotiate with other teams and could force the Steelers to match a contract they don't want to pay or risk losing him to another club.

It'll be interesting to see what happens as this situation plays out, but it sounds like Wallace will be getting paid by Pittsburgh.

For more on Hines Ward and the Pittsburgh Steelers, visit SB Nation's Steelers blog Behind The Steel Curtain.


Hines Ward Would Take Less Money To Stay With Steelers

Hines Ward is determined to retire with the Pittsburgh Steelers, the only franchise he's ever known. He's currently slated to earn $4 million in 2012, and following a down season in which he was overshadowed by up-and-coming receivers such as Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders, there's been speculation that he could be released this offseason.

Ward has heard the chatter, and he took to his official Facebook page in hopes of stopping the rumor mill in its tracks:

I don't normally like to respond to rumors, but as I've said all along, I want to finish my career with the Pittsburgh Steelers. And as I've already told the organization, I am willing to work with them to restructure my contract to make sure this happens. - HINES

It remains to be seen what the Steelers want to do, but it would be a surprise if they can't work out a deal. Ward currently ranks No. 8 on the NFL's all-time receptions list, tied for No. 13 for receiving touchdowns and No. 18 for receiving yards. But among players who have played for only one team, he ranks second, fourth and third, respectively. He's an iconic player who's identified with the black and gold, and it would be uncomfortable for everyone to see him finish his career elsewhere.


Hines Ward, Steelers May Part Ways, According To Report

Iconic Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward won't be back with Pittsburgh in the 2012 NFL season, according to a report.


Steelers Free Agents 2012: Mike Wallace Likely Due Big Raise

A season in which a team goes 12-4 during the regular season is rarely considered a disappointment. Don't tell that to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Despite a strong regular season, the Steelers were bounced out of the playoffs by the Denver Broncos in the Wild Card round and now face an uncertain offseason in which several of their key players will become some sort of free agent.

The biggest area of concern has to be the offensive line, where three of the five starters could leave. As unlikely as the scenario is, losing all three of Ramon Foster (restricted), Doug Legursky (restricted) and Max Starks (unrestricted) would be a massive problem for the Steelers. The other notable starter slated for free agency is wide receiver Mike Wallace (restricted). All he did was lead the Steelers in receiving yardage (1,193) and receiving touchdowns (eight) while enjoying his second straight standout season that puts him in line for a significant raise.

Here's a complete look at the Steelers' free agent picture (via Mac's Football Blog):

Exclusive Rights Free Agents (3)

RB Isaac Redman
DT Steve McLendon
P Jeremy Kapinos

Restricted Free Agents (7)

WR Mike Wallace*
TE David Johnson
OT Jamon Meredith
OL Ramon Foster*
OL Doug Legursky*
CB Keenan Lewis
S Ryan Mundy

Unrestricted Free Agents (11)

QB Charlie Batch
QB Dennis Dixon
QB Byron Leftwich
RB Mewelde Moore
WR Jerricho Cotchery
OT Max Starks*
OL Trai Essex
NT Chris Hoke
CB William Gay
CB Anthony Madison
P Daniel Sepulveda

For more on the Steelers offseason, be sure to check out Behind the Steel Curtain.

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