For any NFL team, jumping into the free-agency pool can be a hazardous exercise fraught with risk, but that potential risk increases dramatically when dealing with the restricted free-agent (RFA) pool.
Unlike unrestricted free agents (UFA), RFA candidates this season will cost a prospective new employer not only the dollar value of a contract, but also as much as a first-round selection in the 2012 NFL draft (depending on the RFA tender placed on the player by his 2011 team).
The first-round tender RFA situation is exactly what Pittsburgh Steelers wideout Mike Wallace finds himself in now, but despite that high cost it is rumored that there is still interest in acquiring him.
The reason for that interest is Wallace has a history of elite performance. Last October, I showed how Wallace is a better game-breaker than Calvin Johnson, and Grantland's Bill Barnwell recently wrote an article offering more evidence as to Wallace's dominant production levels.
However, not all situations are created equal when it comes to teams that may want to acquire Wallace.
There are four main factors that will impact how motivated each team should be to sign him. These are:
1. Their level of need for a dominant vertical wide receiver
2. Their salary-cap situation
3. The level of first-round pick they would have to give up
4. Their incentive level for making life tougher for the Steelers (from a salary-cap and/or personnel perspective)
By gauging each of these on a scale of 1-10 (1 being not motivated at all, 10 being completely motivated), we can come up with a "Wallace factor," indicating just how interested the four teams with a realistic chance to sign him should be in pursuing the Steelers wide receiver.