General manager Kevin Colbert confirmed Thursday that the Steelers will not progress with contract negotiations with Wallace until the wide receiver signs his $2.7 million restricted free-agent tender and reports to training camp.
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"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," Colbert said, via Scout.com.
The message is clear: You want a new deal? Get in the building. Only then does the conversation continue. Since Wallace isn't under contract, he can't be fined for missing time. And, unlike the case with players under the franchise tag, there's no deadline to negotiate a long-term contract.
The Steelers still have the right to slash Wallace's tender at this point, but it appears they've drawn the line there.
"We never planned on using the tender or reducing the tender as leverage," Colbert said. "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."
Wallace led the Steelers with 72 catches for 1,193 yards and eight touchdowns last season and easily is Ben Roethlisberger's most dynamic target. The Steelers need him, but they also run their business in a specific and unflinching way. This isn't a stalemate Wallace can win.
UPDATE: The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Thursday night that Wallace, not agent Bus Cook, made the decision to hold out from training camp, according to sources.