Fast Money Don't Make Money
During the 2011 offseason, Mike Wallace gave the Pittsburgh receiving corps nicknames that incorporated his love of the rapper L’il Wayne and his record label, Young Money Entertainment. He gave himself the moniker “Fast Money”. Along with “Old Money” (Hines Ward), “Easy Money” (Emmanuel Sanders) and “Cash Money” (Antonio Brown), they made up the Young Money Family.
Wallace, playing out the final year of his rookie contract, was coming off of a 2010 season where he led the team in receiving yards, had 10 touchdowns and averaged 21 yards per catch. He began the 2011 season strong, putting up big numbers in the process. Wallace finished that year with his second consecutive 1,000 yard season, a career high in receptions, and his first trip to the Pro Bowl.
With that kind of resume, Fast Money figured he’d get some money.
However, the Steelers decided not to pay Wallace after that 2011 season because there were some concerns about his play on the field. The second half of that season wasn’t nearly as productive as the first. He would disappear for games at a time and whenever defenses geared up their secondaries to stop him, they turned the game breaker into just an ordinary receiver There were also questions about his focus, his attitude, some unsightly drops and his effort as a blocker whenever the ball didn’t come his way...
Wallace would have gotten a raise from the $480k he made in his final year if he played under the RFA tender, but in the NFL, where big numbers on the field lead usually to big numbers in your bank account, it wouldn’t be anywhere close to what he was looking for. $2.742 million dollars for one season? That was not going to cut it.
So Fast Money took it slow and held out from all team activities.
The Sacramento Bee reported that Wallace expected a contract in the range of 8 years, $128 million dollars.
Fast Money wanted a LOT of money.
Considering that the Steelers were up against the cap, a contract of Larry Fitzgerald’s magnitude wouldn’t be happening. Wallace’s agent, Bus Cook, advised him against holding out. But Fast Money ignored said advice and continued to do what he felt was best.
He’d backed off his demands for Larry Fitzgerald money but wanted something similar to Vincent Jackson’s contract, who had signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for five years, $55 million. Even with their concerns, last week, the Steelers offered Wallace a contract in the five year, $50 million dollar range. Close to his demands but he decided it wasn’t enough.
So Pittsburgh took that offer off the table and ended long term negotiations with Wallace. Then they put the same contract Wallace turned down in front of Antonio Brown, who had two years left on his rookie contract. Brown signed on the dotted line, accepting a five year, $42 million dollar extension.
Cash Money ended up with HIS cash money.
Wallace wanted to get paid as if he had just had two GREAT years when all he had was two GOOD ones. He never led the league in any statistical category. He never finished in the top ten! His contract situation was nothing like the Hines Ward dispute back in 2005 where Ward was the clear cut number 1 receiver on a team that had just gone 15-1 with a rookie QB at the helm and he was THE face of the franchise. When it comes to faces of the franchise currently, all signs point to Ben Roethlisberger, Troy Polamalu is a close second. Even James Harrison is more well known than Mike Wallace is in Pittsburgh.
Yes, Wallace is one of the few NFL players who can take it the distance anytime he gets his mitts on the football. He’s averaged 18.7 yards per catch during his career and that world-class speed of his helps stretch the field for the other receivers on the team. But he isn’t a complete wide receiver who can take over the game by outmuscling DBs for jump balls or running through their arm tackles. When a defense knows all he’s going to do is go deep, his effectiveness is nullified. All the secondary has to do is drop the safety as deep as possible to his side of the field and take him out of the play.
He lost a lot of his leverage due to the amazing year Antonio Brown had in 2011. His role in the offense is a little more important as Wallace’s; to run the short and/or underneath routes, sitting down in zones when Ben Roethlisberger rolls out of the pocket. He’s essentially become a faster, shiftier version of Hines Ward. Someone who can take a 5 yard pass, break some tackles and turn that into a first down or a touchdown.
And the Steelers were willing to pay Cash Money for that.
The $42 million being given to Antonio Brown sends a crystal clear message to Mike Wallace from the front office. He overvalued himself and his importance to the Steelers. That cost him the opportunity to land a lucrative long-term contract in the process. There’s no chance that he’ll get the rumored $11 million dollars per year he’s seeking from the Steelers this year with Brown now signed to the contract he JUST turned down. And with him holding out, he’s missing out on the opportunity to become a major weapon in Todd Haley’s new offense.
Fast Money could’ve made a whole lot of money. Due to his greed and stubborn belief that he’s better than he is, Fast Money won’t be making any money anytime soon until he comes to camp.