Having polished off two important contracts over the past two days, the Steelers will report to training camp at Saint Vincent College today trying to nail down one more.
As of Tuesday, they did not have wide receiver Mike Wallace's signature on a contract and until they get it he cannot participate with the rest of his teammates in camp -- or beyond.
Two other new deals, though, have been completed. The team announced that Mike Tomlin signed a three-year extension that puts him under contract as their coach through 2016. That came one day after they signed top draft pick David DeCastro, who will get a chance to win the starting job at right guard.
They have been negotiating a multiple-year deal for Wallace for a while, but, while there have been reports of optimism they will strike a deal, there is none yet. In the meantime, he has another option; he could sign his one-year tender of $2,742,000 offered in restricted free agency. That would allow him to report immediately and practice while the sides try to work out a longer, more lucrative deal.
Even the Steelers do not know what Wallace plans to do. If he does not sign, he cannot report, and there is no punishment or fines because he does not have a contract. If he wanted, he could sit out the first 10 games of the season, report for the final six and become an unrestricted free agent next year. That's not likely to happen because it would not enhance his value as a free agent in 2013, particularly after his second-half slump last season.
Wallace skipped all team activities in the spring when Todd Haley introduced his new offense. He picked up the new playbook, but the Steelers believe it's crucial for him to be on the field to learn it in training camp.
"He's a sharp guy," Mike Tomlin said June 13 at minicamp. "I'm sure he's working at the learning element of it. But there's no substitute for being here and being around your teammates and learning the nuances and learning from other people's mistakes."
Steelers president Art Rooney was more blunt about the Wallace holdout a day later when he told the Post-Gazette, "He should be here."
Those convictions will grow stronger starting today if he's not.
It looks as though Tomlin will be around for a while.
The Steelers added three more years to his contract and reworked the two left on his old deal. Five down, at least five to go for a coach who, at 40, already owns a 55-25 record in six regular seasons, a winning percentage of .688 that leads those coaching in the NFL. His teams have won two AFC championships and one Super Bowl and earned playoff berths in four of his five seasons.
"I am excited that I will continue to be the head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers for years to come," Tomlin said in the team's news release. "I am grateful to the Steelers organization for the opportunity I have been given over the past five years to work and live in this great city, and I am excited to continue to work to bring another championship to the Steelers and the city of Pittsburgh."
The Steelers issued no financial terms of the deal.
Tomlin, hired in 2007 after Bill Cowher resigned, was working on his second contract with the Steelers that went through an option year of '13.
"We are pleased to announce that Mike Tomlin will remain with the Steelers for at least five more years," Rooney said in the news release "Mike is one of the top head coaches in the National Football League and we are thrilled he will continue to lead our team as we pursue another Super Bowl title."
NOTE -- Players must report to Saint Vincent College today and run a conditioning test that is not open to the public. The first practice open to the public is at 3 p.m. Friday.
First Published July 25, 2012 4:15 AM