Hines Ward during this Super Bowl Week press conference stated that he wanted to keep playing football. Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE

Hines Ward A Steeler No More?

Reports are swirling around this morning that the Steelers will not be bringing back Hines Ward for the 2012 season.  Numerous outlets, ESPN and NFL Network, are reporting that inside sources of the team have said the Steelers have opted to not pay out Ward’s $4 million pay day in 2012.  Is this the first step in getting Ward a smaller contract, or will he no longer be in Black & Gold?

There a special clause in Ward’s contract that says the Steelers must decide if he is going to be on the roster by March 1st – two weeks before the start of the 2012 season in terms of the business side.  The Steelers have already adjusted the contracts of Ike Taylor and linebackers Lawrence Timmons and LaMarr Woodley.  There is speculation that Roethlisberger and Polamalu could be next.  The Steelers are willing to pay out the bonus money in order to get the cap down.  So why not either do the same with Ward, or just give him the veteran minimum?

Could this be a move to free up money to bring back Jerricho Cotchery?  The Steelers only signed him to a one year deal from the Jets.  Close to the end of the season, he was taking over many of Ward’s assignments.  I’m still working on breaking down how Todd Haley likes to call plays – perhaps his schemes have no place for Ward.  Ward is arguably the best blocking wide out to ever play the game.  The Steelers used him in that role time and again throughout his 14 year career, and that’s pretty much all he was used for this season.  Perhaps Haley doesn’t really utilize blocking receivers, which means Ward would be the highest paid cheerleader in the NFL.

It’s clear that Ward wants to play.  He’s said time and again that he wants to, even if that means it’s for a different team (gulp).  He has openly stated how devastated he would be were he to not finish his career in Pittsburgh.  I wish he could have seen this coming… maybe then he could have officially announced that he was retiring after this season, and the team could have pulled another ‘win one for the Gipper’ a la Jerome Bettis back in 2006.

Not having Ward on the team will be a weird feeling.  I stated in a post a while back that he’s been a staple on the team and is a huge part of the fandom of the Steelers.  He’s been a part of the Steelers since I was 18 years old – you know, when I grew up and became an adult in Steelers Nation.  We’ve been talking about this moment all season and more so since November.  As with all things – good things must come to an end.  And they don’t always end the way we want them to.  The hardest thing to see will be Ward in another uniform.  I just hope he signs with someone in the NFC and a true contender for the Super Bowl.  He deserves it, but it will pain me to see him wearing anything but black and gold on Sunday afternoons.

Then again, maybe the Steelers are paving a way to get him the vet minimum.  I guess we’ll no more after we hear from Ward himself.  This certainly makes my frosted flakes taste bitter this morning……

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  • SteelerFan209

    Shyea! Not cool. This makes me think about Ray Lewis at the Ravens. He can still be effective but he really isn’t necessary. A Raven game without Ward would be like a day without sunshine. This would totally blow chunks. There’s a strong possibility of me throwing up in thee event that Ward puts on another uniform. I’d say let him have his last year. I mean don’t tell me this organization thinks more of Keith Butler than it does of Hines-Fucking-Ward man!

  • CaptainAge

    I’m not happy with the way the front office is handling Ward right now. What does this say to the current “stars” on the Steelers team when one such as Ward is treated like this at the end of his career. I’m not happy with the amount of meddling that Art Jr is doing. I’m not happy with the way they handled B.As departure (I’m glad he is gone however) – and things are not looking very well with Ward. One of the things that used to separate the Steelers from other franchises is they way they used to conduct business. This doesn’t appear to be the case currently – in my opinion.

  • http://[email protected] toottoot

    I’m not happy because ward is the heart of this new receiver core. Ward is who I thought would be there to the end,theirs no one like him.

  • craig.nicepickcowher

    @toottoot That’s what I was thinking too – he is an invaluable tool for the young guys.

  • steelerchick11

    I do not believe this will happen…Hines being cut from the Steelers. Steeler Nation is up in arms, and has been flooding Steeler headquarters with calls, msgs on facebook to Coach Tomlin, tweets, etc. Hines has offered to take a pay cut, and wants to remain on the team whatever it takes, and Steeler Nation wants him there to finish out his career as a Steeler. The team should dedicate the season to Hines, and win our #7 Superbowl, and let Hines go out on top, just like Bettis did. I have never questioned or doubted the organization in their moves in the past, but this one, I certainly do. I know that we need to free up money due to the cap, but Hines is willing to take less money, Woodley, Timmons & Ike Taylor have already restructured, with more players to step up and do the same. I know that Hines is done as a starter, but he has been the face of this franchise on and off the field. He has taught and mentored Wallace, Brown & Sanders, into the humble players that they have become. I called Steeler Headquarters today to voice my opinion on this, as did many people of Steeler Nation. I am also faxing a letter regarding this. I cannot see the Rooney family disrespecting Hines by cutting him, when they were in the same position with Bettis before, and he took less to come back one more year and go out as a Steeler, and look what happened