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Maybe if Hampton stays, they can afford a helmet that fits..... Credit: Frank Victores-US PRESSWIRE

Steelers Ward vs Hampton: Only One Makes Sense


Kevin Colbert was pretty animate that the Steelers retain Casey Hampton this season, even though he tore his ACL during the playoff loss to the Broncos back in January.  Hampton’s injured his ACL before back in 2004.  He was able to return in 2005 and had an amazing season.  But, eight years is worth about 20 in football player years.  How effective will he be in returning at the nose?

Hoke retired and there’s really no one who can step up in size to fill the Big Snack’s shoes.  It’s pretty obvious that the Steelers are going to snag someone in the draft – even if it’s deep in the 4th round.  It’s tough to say if whomever the draft will be able to start immediately.  And we all know that Pittsburgh’s defense is not an easy one to learn (but hey it’s JUST the NT we’re talking about here – just fill the gaps and push hard).

On top of the Hampton situation, and weighing metaphorically just as much as Big Snack himself, is the Steelers salary cap problems.  The Steelers are just about there and need just a bit more to make a decent swing at either franchising Wallace or waiting until they have to match another team’s offer.  Regardless of whether or not you feel the team should even concern themselves with keeping Wallace or take the draft pick, the team will continue to dump money.  Whether you are a 14 year vet or returning for your second year, no one is safe it seems from the pink slip.  Enter Hines Ward.

Mr. Smiley is a fan favorite and still contributes (though at a much lesser status) to the offense.  Wallace, Brown and Sanders – all three of them – greatly matured this past season.  I’m going to go out on a limb here and say it wasn’t because Casey Hampton taught them that maturity.  More than likely it was due to Ward’s mentorship that these three young (and sometimes cocky) receivers were able to improve their game.  I’m not saying that it will all go to Cleveland hell in a hand basket were Ward dismissed.  But his presence on the team and in the locker room is worth the restructure or cut or whatever magical money thing Kahn needs to do in order to keep Ward.

Offense vs. Defense is very much apples vs. oranges.  But if Hampton is not 100% when he returns, that means he will be on the sideline.  And what is his worth then?  How will he mentor the NT draft pick (or Ziggy Hood if possible) – mentor them on how to get fatter?  In my opinion (and it’s why I write such things) Ward is the higher value in all of this.  He can actually teach these guys a thing or two still.  And let’s not forget that it seems he is practically the heart and soul of this team at times on that sideline and on the field.  Hampton is due a $4.89 million base salary and counts $8.1 million against the salary cap.  I believe that’s more than Ward counts against.

I can be certain of this.  If the Steelers ditch Ward, keep Hampton, Hampton returns only to be put on the PUP list for the first 4-5 weeks, and then only returns on a limited basis, I’ll be grinding my teeth so hard I think I’ll instantly get TMJ.  In the continual debate of who should stay and who should go, Ward wins out again over another veteran player.

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  • daddeeekip

    IMHO Hampton and Mendy should be cut and Ward restructured, I don’t understand how a player that can’t play be more valuable than a player that can.

  • karim

    Agree. Big snack is a liability… Though his eating skills are unmatched in the league….I hope the Steelers see your logic!

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  • LOTUSMAN1

    THE SOLUTION TO THIS “ISSUE” IS CLEAR!  CUT HAMPTON, & HIS $6.357 MILLION DOLLAR CONTRACT & GO GET A NOSE TACKLE IN THE DRAFT!  I “KNOW” FROM A FRONT OFFICE “INSIDER” (IN MY FAMILY), THAT THE STEELERS ARE “TARGETING” ALABAMA INSIDE LINEBACKER DONT’A HIGHTOWER WITH THEIR FIRST ROUND SELECTION (#26), HOWEVER, THERE ARE OTHER CAPABLE INSIDE LINEBACKERS THAT WILL BE AVAILABLE IN THE SECOND ROUND. THEY ARE VERY “HIGH” ON HIGHTOWER BECAUSE HE POSSESSES A “RARE” COMBINATION OF SIZE & SPEED, NECESSARY TO GET TO THE POINT OF ATTACK, & THAT HE HAS PLAYED IN THE (3-4) DEFENSIVE ALIGNMENT FOR HIS ENTIRE COLLEGIATE CAREER. HOWEVER, AS I STATED, THERE ARE A COUPLE OF OTHER INSIDE LINEBACKERS THAT COULD BE CHOSEN IN THE SECOND ROUND. USE THE (326) PICK TO SELECT THE “MOST MAMMOTH” DEFENSIVE NOSE TACKLE OR TACKLE IN THE DRAFT. THERE IS A KID OUT OF MISSISSIPPI THAT GOES 6’6″ AND WEIGHS IN @ A STAGGERING 363 POUNDS. HE WAS RECENTLY CLOCKED @ 4.99 SECONDS IN THE 40-YARD DASH, THIS IS PLENTY OF “MASS” & MORE SPEED THAN CASEY HAMPTON EVER DISPLAYED, EVEN WHEN DRAFTED OUT OF TEXAS!
     
    NOW, AS FOR HINES WARD… THE “TRUE” REASON THAT THE STEELERS ORGANIZATION WAS/IS “PLAYING” THIS NASTY LITTLE “GAME” WITH HIM, IS THIS. HINES RECEIVED A CITATION FOR D.U.I. A FEW MONTHS BACK, WHICH WAS SUBSEQUENTLY DROPPED TO RECKLESS DRIVING – FINE PAID – END OF STORY. BUT THE “FRONT OFFICE” SAW THIS AS A PUBLIC RELATIONS NIGHTMARE… HAVING TO FIELD QUESTIONS ABOUT THEIR ALL-TIME RECEIVER’S OFF-FIELD BEHAVIOR. HINES WARD IS AN OUTSTANDING CITIZEN & MAN, I HAVE MET HI ON SEVERAL OCCASIONS, AND CAN REASSURE ALL OF “STEELER-NATION” , THAT THIS “INCIDENT” WAS BUT A “BLIP” ON THE RADAR!
     
    HINES WARD’S  VALUE TO THIS FRANCHISE CANNOT BE MEASURED IN DOLLAR$!! HE IS WILLING TO TAKE A PAY CUT FROM $4 MILLION DOLLAR$ DOWN TO A MEASLY $1.375 MILLION DOLLAR$ TO REMAIN A PITTSBURGH STEELER, AND TO END HIS CAREER AS A STEELER. THE THINGS HA CAN AND HAS ALREADY TAUGHT THIS “YOUNG CORPS” OF RECEIVERS IS INVALUABLE! STARTING WITH (HIS FAVORITE), “DOWN-FIELD” BLOCKING, THEN COMING BACK TO THE BALL (WHEN “BIG BEN” IS SCRAMBLING FOR HIS LIFE BEHIND OUR POROUS OFFENSIVE LINE, THEN THERE IS PRECISE ROUTE RUNNING!  AND ABOVE ALL OF THESE THINGS: DEDICATION TO WIN!  AS A TEAM, NOT AS AN INDIVIDUAL.  THE STEELERS HAVE HAD NO “FINER” PERSON (BOTH AS A MAN AND A PLAYER) REPRESENTING THE RECEIVING CORPS IN THEIR (79) SEVENTY-NINE YEAR EXISTENCE!!  I THINK HE SHOULD BE A PART OF THIS SEASONS SQUAD, AS A PLAYER/COACH, AND BE OFFERED THE POSITION OF WIDE RECEIVERS COACH AFTER THIS SEASON (IF HE WANTS IT!)  MESSAGE TO MY INSIDER (COUSIN): K-E-E-P HINES WARD, THE BEST STEELERS RECEIVER EVER!!   M.S.M.