Targeting Wallace Appears Unlikely

Ozzie Newsome explained the challenges in going after restricted free agents.

Posted by Garrett Downing on Friday, February 24th, 2012 at 5:14 pm | Categories: 2012 Offseason, 2012 Scouting Combine, Combine, Garrett Downing

Ravens fans drooling at the prospect of stealing restricted free-agent wide receiver Mike Wallace from Pittsburgh might want to hold off on getting their hopes up.

General Manager Ozzie Newsome pretty much squashed that theory when he spoke with reporters Friday at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.

“The problem with going after restricted free agents, at that point, the player and the agent have the leverage because you have to do a deal that you don’t think the other team is going to match,” Newsome said.

With restricted free agents, the player’s current team offers a tender, meaning any team that wants to sign him would have to give up a draft pick that corresponds with the tender.

In the case of Wallace, Pittsburgh is likely to place a first-round tender on him. The Ravens would then have to give Pittsburgh their first-round draft pick and make an offer to Wallace that the Steelers couldn’t match.

It’s a lot to give up for a player, even a Pro Bowler like Wallace.

“Will some teams do it? I mean there are some teams that have two [first round picks] this year,” Newsome said. “Could they do it? Possibly. But they’ll be thinking about all of those other ramifications.”

The other part of the equation is that the Ravens could use that first-round pick to sign a rookie for considerably less money than Wallace. The collective bargaining agreement signed before last season limits the salaries and bonuses for rookies in their first four years compared to what veterans like Wallace can make. 

“With the new rules, that first-round pick, the amount of money that you have to pay over the next four years, it’s not like it was in the previous CBA,” Newsome said. “So you have to factor all of those things in before you decide to make that decision.”

Newsome’s explanation on Friday suggests that the Ravens would hesitate to go after Wallace, but he didn’t completely shut out the idea that the unlikely set of circumstances could be set into motion.

“When I wake up tomorrow,” Newsome said, “I just never know what I might do.”

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