In the past few days, Bengals nation and some media types have become aflutter with the possibility of Cincinnati making a move for Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace. Since the Steelers are tight against the salary cap, a deal could be structured that would make it difficult for Pittsburgh to bring Wallace back. However, because Wallace is expected to be a restricted free agent, the Bengals would have to surrender a first-round pick if they were to sign him.
And that my friends, is insane.
First, you have to understand the importance of a first-round pick. With the new rookie wage scale in place, first-round salaries have been held in check, allowing you to lock in a talented player for four years (or five, if the team uses its option) at a very reasonable rate. For Cincinnati, this would be a significant benefit considering how many of their key players will be approaching free agency in the coming seasons (Jermaine Gresham, Geno Atkins, Carlos Dunlap, etc). The Bengals have to keep their salaries down as much as possible to ensure they can keep their talented core players together.
Second, you have to realize that there are some alternatives available that wouldn’t cost the team a first-rounder. Robert Meachem and Mario Manningham aren’t quite as good as Wallace, but they’re not that far off. And they wouldn’t cost that cherished first-round pick either. So think of it in trade terms. Would you rather have Meachem and a first-round pick (say Dre Kirkpatrick or David DeCastro) or just Mike Wallace? The answer should be obvious.
Luckily, I think Mike Brown realizes this. Brown has been rather reluctant to trade draft picks over the years, instead holding onto them like they’re a 12-year-old phone book on a Hoarders episode. Now, with the rookie wage scale in place, those picks are even more valuable.
Even Wallace, a Pro Bowl receiver who would energize the Bengals and weaken the Steelers, isn’t worth the sacrifice.
So it’s time to end the talk of acquiring him.
It’s all insane.