Citing a source close to the wide receiver, the Pittsburgh Steelers are expected to place a restricted free agent tender on wide receiver Mike Wallace, ESPN's Adam Schefter reports.
Wallace's tender will most likely be at the "First Round" level, which carries a non-guaranteed base salary of $2.742 million for the 2012 season. If a team signed Wallace to an offer sheet that the Steelers declined to match, the new team would compensate the Steelers with a first round draft choice.
The New England Patriots, who have a need at receiver and possess two first round picks, could have interest in Wallace, as could the San Francisco 49ers, who have the 30th overall pick in the draft. Both clubs have ample cap space to offer a front-loaded contract that could be difficult for the Steelers to match.
There had been thought that with the elimination of the "First- and Third-Round" tender in the new collective bargaining agreement, the Steelers would use the franchise tag on Wallace to keep potential suitors at bay. The franchise tag for a wide receiver is projected to be worth $9.443 million, which is fully guaranteed, but would result in the compensation of two first round picks if a team were to sign him to an offer sheet.
The Steelers have spent much of the last few weeks clearing space to accommodate a franchise tender for Wallace. Linebackers Lawrence Timmons and LaMarr Woodley, offensive tackle Willie Colon, cornerback Ike Taylor and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger have restructured their contracts. Cornerback Bryant McFadden and wide receiver Arnaz Battle have been released. With the upcoming release of Hines Ward, the Steelers will be about $9 million under the cap.
In three seasons after being selected with the 84th overall pick of the 2009 NFL Draft, Wallace has 171 receptions for 3,206 yards and 24 touchdowns. Wallace's 19.4-yard average as a rookie led the NFL and Wallace earned his first trip to the Pro Bowl after the 2011 season.