Wallace Making Outrageous Demands?

Wallace shoots for moon (Wickerham/Getty Images)

Mike Wallace reportedly wants Larry Fitzgerald kind of money from interested teams in restricted free agency. That's both good and bad news for the Steelers and their fans.

According to Matt Burrows of The Sacramento Bee, the San Francisco 49ers inquired into Steelers restricted free agent WR Mike Wallace and were turned away by demands for "a contract that surpasses the eight-year, $120 million deal that Larry Fitzgerald signed last year." Burrows surmises that to be the reason there have been no bids made yet for Wallace's services.

And that's the good news for Steelers fans. If Wallace is serious about being paid better than one of the very best receivers in the game, they will keep their speedy split end for at least the price of his RFA tender, $2.7 million.

And now the bad news: The Steelers wouldn't pay him Fitzgerald money.

To Wallace's point, he's gained more yardage and scored as many touchdowns as Fitzerald through each's first three seasons in the league. Fitzgerald caught 59 more passes, but at 13.6 per catch he couldn't gain the same yardage as Wallace, who has the league's No. 1 active average per catch at 18.7.

Fitzgerald's average over eight seasons is 87-1201-9, and Wallace's through three is 57-1069-8.

Last season, Wallace caught 72 passes for 1,193 yards and 8 touchdowns from Ben Roethlisberger. Fitzgerald meanwhile caught 80 passes for 1,411 yards and 8 touchdowns from Kevin Kolb and John Skelton.

Wallace, by virtue of his demands, makes the argument that he's as good of a receiver as Fitzgerald, and the stats say he's closer than perception might indicate. But there's also the perception that NFL defenses have figured Wallace out.

In the first half of last season, Wallace caught 43 passes for 800 yards (18.6) and 6 touchdowns. In the second half, those numbers dipped to 29-393 (13.6)-2. And then in the playoff game he caught 3 passes for 26 yards.

Did defenses figure him out? Or was Wallace thrown off stride by comments from his nemesis with the Baltimore Ravens, Lardarius Webb?

Before playing the Steelers in Game 9 last season, Webb told The Baltimore Sun the Steelers "have a guy in 84, Antonio Brown, who's better than 17 [Wallace] in all aspects of the game." This sent Wallace off into a profanity-laced tirade against Webb and was followed by a 4-68-1 performance. It wasn't quite Wallace's standards, but it was one of his best games in the second half of the season.

That poor second half -- regardless of whether it was due to the rest of the league or his own personal volatility -- is the reason the Steelers cannot, and likely won't, give Wallace the Fitzgerald money he's apparently seeking.

Their only alternative will be to let him play this season for $2.7 million and then, if he plays well, slap a franchise tag on him next season. Because indications are that he's not going to take any hints from Hines Ward, that he's just another diva wide receiver at his core.

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