Steelers WR Mike Wallace expected to return
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The Steelers expect Mike Wallace to return to Pittsburgh this weekend and sign a one-year contract after the team plays its preseason game in Buffalo, multiple sources told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
The Steelers play Saturday night. Presumably, Wallace would be eligible to play in their final preseason game Aug. 30 against Carolina at Heinz Field, but whether he will or not is unknown.
The Steelers will be off Sunday after their game against Buffalo and will have only two normal days of practice before they finish the preseason against the Panthers. Wallace will need to pass a physical before he can rejoin them.
Reporting by Monday would give the Pro Bowl wide receiver two weeks to practice and prepare for the regular-season opener Sept. 9 in Denver. His return also could trigger the re-opening of negotiations on a multiple-year deal. Talks between Wallace and the Steelers ended when he did not report for the start of training camp July 25.
The Steelers have a long-standing policy of not negotiating once the regular season begins. So, if Wallace signs his one-year tender from the Steelers Sunday or Monday, it would give them less than two weeks to work on a new deal with him.
Wallace and the team had been negotiating after no other team made him a contract offer as a restricted free agent, a period that ended in April. Wallace's rights then reverted back to the Steelers exclusively, but he has not signed their one-'year tender of $2,742,000.
After Wallace declined to sign it and did not report to camp, the Steelers turned to another wide receiver, Antonio Brown. Brown, the 2011 Steelers MVP, agreed to a six-year, $42.5 million contract two days into training camp.
Coach Mike Tomlin, interviewed at Steelers.com Monday, was asked whether seeing Wallace return would be a happy occasion.
"It depends on what frame of mind and level of conditioning and readiness that he shows up in, to be quite honest with you," Tomlin said. "I'm not going to anticipate anything and that's what I mean when I say I'll see him when I see him. He's going to dictate how we move forward."
First Published August 22, 2012 12:00 am