Chicago Sun-Times

Should the Bears take a look at Mike Wallace?

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The Steelers will not use the franchise tag on Pro Bowl wide receiver Mike Wallace because of salary-cap limitations, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Thursday. Wallace is a restricted free agent, meaning another NFL team could sign him to an offer sheet and the Steelers would receive a first-round draft pick if they choose not to match the offer.

The 6-0, 199-pound Wallace had 72 receptions for 1,193 yards (16.6 per catch) and eight touchdowns in 2011. His production dropped significantly in the second half -- Wallace averaged 104 receiving yards in the Steelers' first seven games (36-730, 20.3, 5 TDs) and 49 in their final 10 games (39-489, 12.5, 3 TDs), including three catches for 26 yards in the Steelers' upset loss to the Broncos in the playoffs.

Wallace, 25, a third-round pick out of Mississippi in the 2009 draft, was indirectly part of the Bears' deal to acquire Jay Cutler from the Broncos in 2009. The Bears exchanged a third-round pick (No. 84) for a fifth-round pick (No. 140) on the end of the deal.

The Broncos traded the 84th pick to the Steelers, who took Wallace. The Bears selected Johnny Knox of Abilene Christian with the fifth-round pick from the Broncos. Wallace (4.33) and Knox (4.34) had the best 40-yard-dash times behind Maryland's Darrius Heyward-Bey at the Scouting Combine in 2009. Heyward-Bey was drafted No. 7 overall by the Oakland Raiders.

Wallace is averaging 18.7 yards per catch with 24 touchdowns in three NFL seasons. He had 60 catches for 1,257 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2010.

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I would say we should consider it, but at the same time, we would not only be kicking in a large amount of cap space to sign him, we would also be giving up our first round pick. If the team was as good as Lovie and Angelo kept telling us it was, this would not be as big of an issue. But the simple truth is that we are a very thin roster, and not very talented outside of a few positions. Emery needs all of his picks, and as much cap room as he can manage to get this team where it needs to be. We can't afford to give up a big chunk of cap space AND a first round pick on one guy. We can get Laurent Robinson or Meachem on the unrestricted free agent market, and then draft a guy, and get two players for what we would have given up for Wallace. Less actually, when you figure we would pay less for the other guys than Wallace will command.

Not to mention Pittsburgh doesn't want to let him get away, so the likelihood of them matching an offer we put on the table is high.

But my opinion is that we can get potentially the best center in the draft at 19, or maybe a DE to play across from Peppers, and we can sign a free agent or two at wideout, and draft someone in the second or third to complement them. Will they be as good as Wallace? Probably not, but we won't short-change ourselves in the rebuild process.

I think the Bears should pass on this one. I do not see an advantage here for the Bears. Better prospects are available, and the Bears are better off with those receivers they already have.

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This page contains a single entry by Mark Potash published on March 1, 2012 10:03 AM.

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