In the world of the NFL, every team should now be at training camp, draft picks should (mostly) be signed and players should be acclimating to the schemes and playbooks for the 2012 season. However, some players have yet to get on board. In particular, two veteran wide receivers are creating a bit of drama for their respective teams as the Steelers' Mike Wallace and Chiefs' Dwayne Bowe continue to hold out.
The two are clearly unhappy with their contract situations and they're both in the exact same position. Both players were franchised earlier this offseason and they have to acknowledge the tag by signing the franchise tender. Both players will make approximately $9.5 million in 2012, yet both also long for long-term security and dollars.
They each have a decent argument. They're both the top receiving option on their respective teams, and it's not just the player in each instance who would benefit from a long-term deal. After all, the Steelers and Chiefs would enjoy Wallace and Bowe for years to come if they could sign on the dotted line.
However both teams seem to believe that taking things one year at a time is the right approach. Wallace has been mentioned in various trade possibilities, while Bowe has kept a low profile and the media has allowed him to as well. Few questions have been asked about the Chiefs and Bowe, while Wallace and Pittsburgh have received exponentially more attention. Perhaps that's also the state of Steelers football.
In a recent column, Bill Williamson of ESPN recently asked if a trade of the two was even palatable. The answer there is an easy one: No.
He writes, "I don't get the sense the Steelers feel like they are in a tough spot. They can simply give Wallace the franchise tag next year if a new deal isn't made. I'd doubt they'd be excited to dump Wallace and then have to pay Bowe. I'm sure the Chiefs, though, would be interested in Wallace. They have cap room and signing Wallace to a long-term deal would be a fit on the field and in the pocket book. Getting the Steelers to agree would likely be the tough part."
Wallace is younger and it's easy to be drawn by his speed and ability, yet Bowe has a stronger track record in the league of being an impact receiver. I'm not sure there would be much interest on either part.
The Chiefs might very well like what they have in Bowe and the way he matches up with Jon Baldwin on the outside, and if they can afford the salary of a franchised wide receiver, they hold all of the power in the relationship. While fans might wonder why a traditional contract isn't given to Bowe, they might not realize that the franchise tag lets the team retain Bowe as long as they are willing to pay him like a top-five receiver in football.