Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has a little secret, as he revealed in an interview on WGR 550, with regard to Steelers holdout wide receiver Mike Wallace. Roethlisberger revealed that he knows when Mike Wallace will report to camp, but that he won’t release that information. This seems to confirm earlier reports that Wallace will report before the end of training camp and will be ready by the season opener.
Roethlisberger has said that he talks with Wallace every day, so even if the two aren’t on the practice field together yet, there is clearly a strong bond there. This is all excellent news for the Steelers, who would be hard pressed to replace the void that Wallace would create in the passing game.
Wallace has emerged as one of the top wide receivers in the league, and wanted to be paid accordingly. With his restricted free agent tender, he will be paid approximately $2.7 million for this season, which is well below the market for a receiver with his talent. Looking at the first three years of his career, he has outperformed Larry Fitzgerald and Calvin Johnson over the first three years of their careers, both of whom have signed contracts worth over $100 million in the last year. See our breakdown here on whether Wallace is worth a $100 million contract.
In fact, the only two players in NFL history who put up better numbers in their first three seasons were Jerry Rice and Randy Moss. Wallace is clearly in that elite category as one of the top five receivers in the league, and at age 26, he is just coming up on his peak performing years.
The Steelers would be wise to lock him down for the long term, particularly while they still have an exclusive negotiating position. If he continues to put up numbers like he has been (3,206 yards and 24 TDs over 3 seasons, averaging 18.7 yards per catch) and there is going to be a long line of teams looking to talk with him. Roethlisberger realizes the importance of Wallace to the Steelers passing game, so here’s hoping Steelers management does as well.