The Pittsburgh Steelers are just one of many teams who are in cap trouble this offseason. Though they're not as bad as the New York Jets ($25 million over the salary cap) or the Dallas Cowboys ($20 million over), the Steelers will likely have to see some very good players go elsewhere in 2013.
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With a cap number about $16 million north of the $120 NFL salary cap, the Steelers have some cutting to do. Rather, aside from actual cutting, they'll likely have to refrain from bringing back some key players. One such player is wide receiver Mike Wallace, who is set to become a free agent in March.
According to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, the Cleveland Browns could be interested in Wallace's services. La Canfora suggests that "many in the Steelers organization" believe that Wallace will end up with the Browns, citing the ownership connection, as new Browns owner Jimmy Haslam used to be a minority owner of the Steelers.
Wallace isn't exactly upset with the Steelers, but he desperately wanted to test the free agent market last season as a restricted free agent. However, there wasn't much interest for his services, given that a team would have had to give him a huge contract on top of sending the Steelers a first-round pick.
Instead, Wallace had to remain with Pittsburgh, and signed with the team when the deadline to do so arrived.
He did have something of a down year, though, falling short of the 1,000-yard mark with 836. In his previous two seasons, he had yardage totals of 1,257 and 1,193. He did have eight touchdowns in 2012, though, and Pittsburgh had plenty of problems on offense that limited him. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had a very poor season, which hurt Wallace's numbers.
So aside from the Browns, there should be plenty of teams interested in Wallace. He's been in the NFL just four seasons, and has 4,042 receiving yards on top of 32 receiving touchdowns. He's only missed one game in his four-year career. He can run all the routes, he has top-end speed and he's a red zone threat.
Really, he might be one of the best receivers to legitimately hit the free agent market in a long time.
Which teams could be interested? A few come to mind. The Cincinnati Bengals are the only team in the NFL with more cap space than the Browns this offseason. Now, some have suggested that Wallace to Cincinnati is unlikely, but it does make sense for a few key reasons.
For one, the motivation to subtract from the Steelers, a historically strong team in the division. For two, the motivation to prevent the Browns, who are also division rivals, from making that next step toward being a legitimate contender in the NFL. The Bengals could hurt both the Steelers and the Browns with one move.
The Miami Dolphins are another team that could be interested in Wallace. They have about $38 million in cap space and are expected to pursue Green Bay Packers wide receiver Greg Jennings in free agency. If Ryan Tannehill is their guy at the quarterback position, they could certainly use an upgrade at receiver.
Say Jennings is uninterested or they lose out on the bid for his services, the Dolphins could easily turn their attention to Wallace, who should fit their offense like a glove. It wouldn't be shocking at all to see him go to Miami.
Another team that could be after Wallace? The Kansas City Chiefs. They're going to try and retain the services of Dwayne Bowe this offseason, but there's a good chance that Bowe wants to go elsewhere, and Andy Reid might see Wallace in the same vein he saw Desean Jackson in Philadelphia.
In the end, it's unlikely that the Steelers retain Wallace, given the fact that Wallace is looking for something like $30 million over five years, or something similar. They just can't swing a contract like that at the moment. Above are just some of the teams that could be willing to give Wallace the money he desires.