The Steelers placed a first-round tender on Pro Bowl receiver Mike Wallace, protecting themselves in case he receives an offer from another NFL team.
But they left themselves potentially vulnerable on the offensive line by placing the original, or lowest possible, tender on starting guards Doug Legursky and Ramon Foster -- players who would command no compensation if they signed with another team.
By tendering Wallace the highest offer, the Steelers will pay him $2.7 million in 2012 and have the option to match any offer he might receive as a restricted free agent. It also means they would receive a No. 1 draft pick in return if Wallace signed an offer sheet with another team and the Steelers declined to match the offer.
The Steelers have said they want to sign Wallace to a contract that would keep him with the team for a long time and already have had discussions with his agent, Buss Cook.
The situation is not the same for Legursky and Foster, who ended the season as the starters at left and right guard, respectively, on the depth chart.
They were two of five restricted free agents -- cornerback Keenan Lewis, safety Ryan Mundy and tight end David Johnson were the others -- who received the original tender Monday from the Steelers. All five will receive $1.26 million in '12 if they sign the tender.
Because they were undrafted free agents, Legursky and Foster become something of a bargain because they would not require a draft pick in return if another team signed them. With the release of veteran guard Chris Kemoeatu, that would create an even bigger depth problem at that position.