When the Pittsburgh Steelers open their OTAs on Tuesday, they will be without the services of wide receiver Mike Wallace and their two top picks, each of whom is expected to start on the offensive line this season, Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.
First-round guard David DeCastro and second-round left tackle Mike Adams will miss the workouts because their respective schools -- Stanford and Ohio State -- operate on the "quarter" system, preventing the players from participating in the workouts until final exams are completed in June.
Wallace's expected absence is solely tied to his contract situation and should not come as a surprise. The three-year veteran received the "first round" restricted free agent tender, which calls for a non-guaranteed base salary of $2.742 million this season. For a 25-year-old deep threat who has 171 receptions, 3,206 yards and 24 touchdowns in 48 games, and is coming off a Pro Bowl season, that's a bargain. Wallace is believed to be seeking a long-term contract in the Larry Fitzgerald/Calvin Johnson neighborhood, which would come with total values exceeding $100 million with $50 million in guarantees.
Wallace has not signed his tender and will not be required to attend the OTAs or mandatory minicamp, which runs from June 12-14. If Wallace does not sign the tender by June 14, the Steelers would have the option of withdrawing the current offer and immediately replacing it with a "June 15" tender, which would requires the Steelers to pay Wallace at a rate of at least 110 percent his previous year's salary. Wallace earned a 2011 CBA-enhanced $525,000 in 2011, so his salary under a "June 15" tender would be worth it.
The New England Patriots and San Diego Chargers took this path when they gave Logan Mankins and Vincent Jackson "June 15" tenders in 2010. Each player remained unsigned into the start of the season, losing between $2.45 million (Mankins) and $2.987 million (Jackson) in base salary and were still not allowed to test the free-agent market when they were franchised before the lockout.
There's no guarantee that the Steelers would reduce the tender, but the potential loss of $2.1645 million in base salary in 2012 may spur Wallace to sign the tender on the final day of minicamp. After all, that potential lost income is more than the $1.969 million in base salary and performance-based pay Wallace earned over his first three seasons in the league.