BOSTON (CBS) — The Patriots’ ongoing negotiations with Wes Welker will likely be the team’s priority this offseason. After a new report on Thursday, though, they’re going to have to take some time to look at Mike Wallace.
The 25-year-old receiver won’t have the franchise tag placed on him, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The report says the Steelers will only tender Wallace, meaning another team could offer the receiver a contract. If the Steelers choose not to match that offer, Wallace is free to sign with that team, with the signing team giving a first-round pick to Pittsburgh.
Interestingly enough, the Patriots’ pursuit of Welker prior to the 2007 season began in earnest when the Dolphins offered Welker a second-round tender. The Patriots eventually worked a trade for Welker, sending a second- and seventh-round pick to Miami in exchange for the then-25-year-old.
Wallace, in his three years in the league, has established himself as one of the game’s most dangerous downfield threats. In the past two seasons, he’s averaged 1,225 yards on 66 receptions, averaging nine touchdowns as well. He topped the 100-yard receiving mark in four games this season, and he turned in a nine-catch, 89-yard, one-touchdown performance against Green Bay in Super Bowl XLV.
The Patriots reportedly will place the franchise tag on Welker, 30, with the hope of signing a long-term extension. However, the potential availability of Wallace is going to affect how many teams approach their offseason plans with regard to the wide receiver position.