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Could Mike Wallace be the deep threat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers need at receiver?

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers need a deep threat at receiver. Not just someone who can run fast, but someone who can turn that speed into production. After all, speed alone only gets you so far - right, Dexter Jackson? There are few players in today's NFL who can do that, and two of them are scheduled to be free agents this offseason: Mike Wallace and DeSean Jackson. The latter will likely receive a franchise tag, but Wallace is likely to be available - at a price, because he is a restricted free agent.

The Pittsburgh Steelers will do everything they can to keep the young and talented receiver, but they may not be able to: the Steelers are scheduled to be $11 million above the cap, and in their current situation they can't franchise tag Wallace while signing him to a long-term deal is exceedingly difficult as well. The only thing they can realistically do is tender the restricted free agent. Adam Schefter suggested yesterday that this gave teams the opportunity to pilfer Wallace from the Steelers.

Simply put: any team could sign Wallace to an offer sheet the Steelers can't match by offering Wallace a high roster bonus in his first season. That kind of roster bonus is not pro-rated over the length of the contract as signing bonuses are, and with the Steelers' cap situation they couldn't possibly match that offer. With the Bucs incredible $67 million of 2012 salary cap space, they could easily offer Wallace a sizable roster bonus.

The Steelers would, however, receive the first-round pick of whichever team successfully signed Mike Wallace - and that's where things fall apart for the Buccaneers. Mike Wallace is probably worth a fifth overall draft pick as an extremely talented, well-rounded, fast and young wide receiver. But this isn't a case of evaluating Mike Wallace alone, because there are other fish in the sea. Instead of signing Mike Wallace, the Buccaneers could sign another free agent receiver, like Dwayne Bowe or Vincent Jackson, while using their first-round draft pick on a different position of need.

So the question isn't "Is Mike Wallace worth the fifth overall draft pick". It's: "Is Mike Wallace more valuable than the fifth overall draft pick and another free agent receiver?" I'd say he isn't, and I'm pretty sure the Bucs' front office would feel the same way.