|Where will Mike Wallace end up? (US Presswire)|
As Bill Parcells once famously said, "You are what your record says you are." Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert understands this as well as anyone, which is why he freely admitted Wednesday that something has to change if the team hopes to improve on its .500 record.
"When you're 12-4 and a playoff team, sometimes you get mesmerized by your success and you get a little reluctant to change," Colbert said, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "If we don't change a roster that produced 8-8, we'd be silly to expect a better result."
That revelation coupled with the Steelers currently finding themselves some $10 million over the salary cap could mean that many (all?) of their soon-to-be free agents will be playing elsewhere next season.
Wide receiver Mike Wallace will be the most talked about name to hit the open market, but cornerback Keenan Lewis might be more valuable to the Steelers' long-term plans. Colbert made it sound like neither will receiver a contract offer from the organization before free agency.
"We won't know what an individual player will cost until he gets out there," Colbert said, suggesting that the Steelers will let the market decide each player's worth. "Going into this thing, we're not married to anybody."
And just like last year, when Wallace was a restricted free agent, the Steelers have no plans to use the franchise tag on him. "I don't think we have too many franchise players," Colbert said, a sentiment we're guessing Wallace disagrees with given his decision to skip offseason workouts up through training camp while he angled for a new deal.
Wallace never got it, and it appears he won't -- not unless he's asking for substantially less than what kept him at home through August.
You can argue that losing Wallace won't have much effect on the Steelers' passing game; Antonio Brown is probably the team's best receiver, and Emmanuel Sanders is more versatile than the guy coach Tomlin took to calling a "one-trick pony." Except that Wallace's ability to blow by people (whether he actually catches the ball or not) makes things easier for everybody else -- Brown, Sanders, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, offensive coordinator Todd Haley -- to do their jobs. Without the threat of Wallace, defenses can be more aggressive.
How much is that worth to the Steelers? Let's put it this way: We're guessing it's worth more to one of the 31 other teams.
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