Kevin Colbert, General Manager, Pittsburgh Steelers
Q: What’s the procedure now with Mike Wallace? And did you get close?
KC: Every negotiation is unique. You go through it and you try to put your best foot forward and hope you can come to an agreement. It takes two parties to reach that agreement and obviously we’re not at that stage, and we’ve chosen to not progress with negotiations at this point.
Q: What if he says ‘OK, I’ll take your last offer’?
KC: I think once we made that decision we’re in a different mode and we would have to address any new negotiation if we get to that point.
Q: You guys did not drop the tender amount, as you could have. You’re apparently trying to keep this courteous and keep the dialogue going. Are you still hopeful of a long-term deal?
KC: Yeah. Back to the point about dropping the tender, we never really wanted to do that because Mike’s a good player who’s worthy of the tender we put on him a long time ago. We never planned on using the tender or reducing the tender as leverage. I think that just shows what you think about the player and it gives you a launching point for a long-term deal. But again we weren’t able to conclude that so we move on.
Q: Are you still hopeful? Or has the optimism waned?
KC: I think it is what it is right now with him not being here. Really, we’ve got to focus on what we can control, and we can’t control that because again every negotiation’s unique. You put your best foot forward. If it’s not suitable for both parties than you have to adjust. We’re really in a just-move-forward mode right now.
Q: Haven’t you been consistent in your negotiating policy over the years?
KC: Yeah. That’s been the Steeler policy forever. To my knowledge this is the first time we’ve had a restricted player hold out. In the past it was usually a player who was under contract was holding out. There have been draft picks without contracts that have held out.
Q: But that’s different, right?
KC: Yes, this is unique because it’s a restricted free agent that has a tender that can be signed and you can still negotiate off of that. It’s different for franchise players. They had a drop-dead date of July 15. You can’t extend off of that, but for a restricted player you can.
Q: Since he’s not under contract, is he subject to fines?
Q: Have you spoken to Mike recently?
KC: No. Omar [Khan] talked more with his agent and then I talk both to the agent and to the player directly.
Q: Any indication that he might just come in at any time?
KC: No. That was obviously a few days ago. Again, I don’t want to get into a lot of specifics about the negotiations because we don’t do that as a rule, but at that point he didn’t indicate to us what his next course of action was to be, other than we weren’t going to have an agreement.
Q: The whole ball’s in his court then, right?
KC: Yeah. Again, we have to move on. We have to prepare with the 89 guys that are here. We have to. You can’t focus on who isn’t here because you lose track of what you’re supposed to be doing.
Q: If he does show up, does that mean he has to sign the tender at least?
KC: Yeah, he has to be under contract to practice.
Q: Is there any drop-dead date to sign the tender?
KC: You don’t want to project into the future too much on that. [Editor’s note: Players need to be active for 6 games for an accrued season.]
Q: His performance slipped in the second half last season. Do you factor that into the negotiations?
KC: No. Again, in any negotiation you look at the whole body of work and see where they are. Players have up-and-down seasons; they have up-and-down periods during the season. You look at the whole body of work and just try to come to a conclusion of what you think a player’s worth and then you try to come to an agreement with him.
Q: Other than Hines Ward, I can’t remember another wide receiver getting a big-time second contract. Is there a philosophy that that position is maybe not as important as others?
KC: No, not at all. We don’t really look at it positionally, except quarterbacks are always treated differently. No. It’s about the individual player.
Q: Are you interested in bringing anybody in?
KC: We’ll always look at what’s available and what kind of cap room we have to maneuver and work with, so that’s ongoing. There are players that didn’t sign; there are players that will get flushed out. We have to balance. We have six guys on PUP and one guy not here, so really we’re working with 83 guys, so we have to keep balance positionally so we have enough guys working and we don’t overuse the particular position.