Steeler Nation, it was not long ago that the Steelers were dealing with the dilemma of a hold-out by wide receiver Mike Wallace. In the summer of 2012 Wallace was a restricted free-agent coming off a big 2011 season with 72 catches for 1,193 yards and eight touchdowns.
Wallace and his agent wanted a long-term deal with a big pay-day. Wallace’s camp decided to stage a hold out that summer in 2012 not reporting to the Steelers until the third preseason game. By that time the Steelers had already decided to sign another wide receiver to a long-term contract extension, that receiver was Antonio Brown.
Brown signed a five-year 42.5 million dollar extension with an 8.5 million dollar signing bonus in late July of 2012. By making this move the Steelers not only secured a valuable piece of their offense but took away any leverage that Wallace and his camp had by holding out.
The Steelers had made their choice where to spend their money and they chose Brown. Antonio Brown had shown great potential and when it became obvious that Wallace was going to play hard ball asking for much more than the Steelers were willing or able to pay the choice was simple.
Wallace would play out the 2012 season after signing his restricted offer for 2.7 million.Wallace completed the 2012 season with 64 catches for 836 yards and 8 touchdowns.
Rumors flew after the 2012 season that there may have been friction in the locker room and many speculated Wallace was a big part of that friction. In February 2013 while being interviewed by ESPN Brown had this to say about his relationship with Wallace during the 2012 season….
Brown:“Some bit of awkwardness. You know, a guy who has been there longer than I and definitely wanting a deal, but you’ve got to not dwell on that and that kind of situation prohibits bad blood to a team where guys are there for themselves, and not buy into the team aspects and could definitely cause a drama within a team.”
Mike Wallace would leave via free agency in 2013 and receive his big payday signing a 5 year 60 million dollar contract ,including a 11 million dollar signing bonus with the Miami Dolphins.
So far it has looked as though the Steelers made the right choice in Brown over Wallace.
Antonio Brown has led the AFC in receiving for most of 2013 and through 12 games has 85 catches, 1103 yards and 6 touchdowns. Brown’s 85 receptions leads the NFL.
Wallace in comparison has 56 receptions 743 yards and only 3 touchdowns. Wallace known as a deep threat has averaged 13.3 yards a catch this season. Antionio Brown is averaging a very close 13.0 per catch.
So you see Steeler Nation , the stage is set for a great showdown.
Wallace will be making his first visit back to Heinz Field .Make no mistake Mike Wallace will be highly motivated to prove that the Steelers made the wrong move.
Antonio Brown wants to continue to prove the Steelers made the right choice as he tries to hold on to his NFL reception lead and Wallace’s presence should only fuel the fire.
Steeler Nation sit back and enjoy this showdown, it should be a good one!