In the absence of Mike Wallace, the unsigned restricted free agent who has not yet signed his one-year tender and is missing training camp, Pittsburgh officials have broken off negotiations.
The truth has always been that the Steelers, while embracing Wallace, feel that Antonio Brown might turn out to be the better receiver, and were always set on signing Wallace to a long-term deal at their parameters, not his.
There was some needling involved in coach Mike Tomlin's characterization of Wallace as a "one-trick pony" -- a player whose blinding speed intimidated defenses, but which was always better than his route-running -- but also some truth to it.
There is also some truth to this: Pittsburgh will keep a close eye on third-year veteran Emmanuel Sanders, the man who is currently replacing Wallace, but who has experienced foot and knee problems in the past.
The Steelers really like Sanders, who believe that his route-adjustment abilities, honed under run-and-shoot coach June Jones at SMU, give him the chance to be a very good pass-catcher.
But Sanders, who is more quick than fast, and who reads secondary rotations well, has undergone surgeries on both feet in two years, and had a fairly routine knee procedure as well.
The injuries are arguably the biggest reason Sanders has just 50 receptions in two years.
Pittsburgh coaches feel he is better than that, but will keep a close eye on his physical status. During the offseason, Tomlin candidly acknowledged concern over the injuries, but bragged about Sanders' potential.
With Wallace out of camp, and no hint as to when he will sign, the Steelers need Sanders to approximate that potential.