While many expect nothing more than a minor holdout from receiver Mike Wallace, the Pittsburgh Steelers know the can't afford to lose him to free agency. Would the Carolina Panthers offer a valuable trade for him?
Ike Taylor and other teammates expect Wallace at NFL training camp
While Ben Roethlisberger gets more and more anxious the longer Wallace is gone, at least one Steelers veteran promises the Pro Bowl receiver will return no later than the start of NFL training camp in July. He feels Pittsburgh will find a deal the receiver likes and the two sides will "get it done." In truth, Mike Wallace might sit under an illusion that he deserves to get paid like superstars Larry Fitzgerald and Calvin Johnson. Both players make upwards of $16 million per year. Numbers alone show he's not quite there but one must also take into account that Pittsburgh has some other good receivers on the roster. While Wallace is still the best among them and probably the best in the AFC, most agree if he gets an extension it will stand around $12 million per year. The truth is the Pittsburgh Steelers control the rights to his contract for the next two seasons with the restricted free agent tender this year and then the franchise tag in 2013. Only a stubborn and even obnoxious holdout might sway them to extend or trade him. If it came to that, where would the Steelers send him?
Panthers need an eventual Steve Smith replacement for Cam Newton
One team that could use a number two receiver and an eventual replacement for their number one is the Carolina Panthers. Under rookie Cam Newton, All-Pro receiver Steve Smith came out in 2011 like a phoenix from the ashes. Many expect him to have another good year but the clock is still ticking for him. Smith just turned 33 and runs the risk of injury the more Newton throws to him. It's why Carolina has made their search for a second receiver so important. Many fans like Brandon LaFell or David Gettis to fill that role, Carolina must make sure their prized quarterback has a star target on the outside if they want to compete for Super Bowls. That means they need not just a number two but an eventual successor to Smith. That's where a trade with Pittsburgh comes in. Carolina is in a good spot in that they have plenty of draft picks but also skill players at needed roster areas, particularly offensive linemen like Pro Bowlers Jordan Gross and Ryan Khalil. Either player would become a welcome addition to the bad Steelers line and add some leadership for young rookies like David DeCastro and Mike Adams.
Nothing is certain in the NFL but trading Mike Wallace sounds like the end of the world for Pittsburgh Steelers fans. Then again teams like the Carolinas Panther have good reason to pay high for him as insurance for when Cam Newton can't rely on Steve Smith anymore.