Blog Entry

Report: Ward won't return to Steelers in 2012

Posted on: February 11, 2012 10:33 am
Edited on: February 11, 2012 8:22 pm

By Josh Katzowitz

UPDATED 8:21 p.m. ET: According to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, Steelers sources are saying that no decision has been made regarding Hines Ward and his future.


We already knew big changes were coming to the Steelers, whether Ben Roethlisberger wants it or not. Former offensive coordinator Bruce Arians is out; former Chiefs head coach Todd Haley is in as the man who will run Pittsburgh’s offense. And we wonder how much power Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin really has.

Now, it seems like a distinct possibility that one of the organization’s all-time great receivers won’t return for 2012.

That’s according to’s Jason La Canfora, who said Friday that with all the contract and salary cap maneuvering the front office is doing, Ward’s $4 million salary and declining productivity might be too much bear and that he won't be back in Pittsburgh next season.

Already, Ward has said he will not retire and that he’d be willing to take a paycut with the Steelers because he wants to stay in Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh's offensive upheaval
"I'd probably have to restructure my contract," Ward said last month. "That's fine with me. I recognize that. I'm telling you I want to be here, I'm telling you I'm willing to do that. And I understand the ramifications -- we have the cap number and stuff, but I want to be here."

Even with his reduced role in the Steelers offense -- Ward lost his starting position to Antonio Brown -- the team means so much to him that he’s willing to return for less money and less playing time.

"I'm just looking year to year, but I do want to play next year,” Ward said. “If they decide to part ways, I'll be devastated, but life's not over. I'm still young.

"My thing is, I want to be a Steeler, I'm here, I'm willing to restructure, do whatever. I don't want to be seen in another uniform but, if they decide to part ways, or whatever, I don't know, I'm not even thinking like that. I couldn't even fathom myself [in another uniform], but I still want to play football.”

Look for something to happen with Ward soon. If he’s still on the Steelers roster on March 1, he’s guaranteed to earn his 2012 salary. It’s seeming more likely, though, that if Ward wants to continue his illustrious career, he’ll have to do so somewhere other than Pittsburgh.

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Since: Oct 12, 2006
Posted on: February 12, 2012 3:34 pm

Report: Ward won't return to Steelers in 2012

Well, he is a Steeler for life in his heart & soul. But I do think he needs to be realistic. Play for the highest bidder because it could be over with an injury, regardless of where he is. Steelers have moved on, some of the others moved on earlier. Ward still has something left to give another franchise too, that's in the best interest of the NFL and game of football. Make the Steelers honor that contract, they aren't going to pay a dime more when he retires, so get it now while it's guaranteed.

Since: Sep 20, 2006
Posted on: February 12, 2012 2:04 pm

Report: Ward won't return to Steelers in 2012

Well said!

Since: Jan 6, 2012
Posted on: February 12, 2012 1:44 pm

Report: Ward won't return to Steelers in 2012

This is the saddest part about sports....saying bye. It's tough for management, players and the fans. It kills me every time I see Tony G catching passes for Atlanta, but it was necessary to move him for the sake of Tony and the Chiefs. It could be the same for Peyton Manning. I am a Steeler hater (out of respect for theor winning lol) but I have enjoyed watching Ward play. He never takes a play off and plays his position to it fullest (as a receiver, blocker, decoy, deep routes and short and primary go to guy). I can't picture him in any other uniform and would love to see him retire a Steeler. He deserves the right, but so did Tony, Joe N, Joe M, Jerry Rice, Johnny U etc etc. Reality bites. Great career Hines whatever happens.

Since: Sep 1, 2011
Posted on: February 12, 2012 1:36 pm

Report: Ward won't return to Steelers in 2012

want the money will do anything to keep it in the pocket.

Since: Oct 3, 2006
Posted on: February 12, 2012 1:05 pm

Report: Ward won't return to Steelers in 2012

I agree with the loyalty talk. But he needs to do what is best for the game and team also. that means a much smaller contract which he says he is willing to accept. This contract should have incentives for performance and teaching or co-coaching the receivers.

Everyone knows when he retires he will still retire a Steeler. just like Smith retired a Cowboy and so many other signed those 1 day contracts to retire.

Look at Rod Woodson who won a Superbowl with the rival Ravens and still considers himself a Steeler in the HOF. Kevin Green never won a SB as a player, played in 1 with the Steelers, had a great career with an expansion team and was then on a Super Bowl winning coaching staff against the Steelers but he is still considered a Steeler.

Ward will always be a Steeler. Even of he plays a year or two with someone else. Was Rice a Raider or Seahawk? No Was Montana a Chief? No. Was Favre a Viking or Jet? No. (A nut case ? Yes.) these guys deserve to make money in the business if they are still productive but to waste cap money on something that is not feasable is asking to much for the ownership. 

As fans we want a competitive team and if wasting money won't get that then we should expect the Rooneys to do what makes the Steelers competitive.  

Since: Nov 1, 2006
Posted on: February 12, 2012 1:02 pm

Report: Ward won't return to Steelers in 2012

It's doubtful he'll be back. Anyone on here preaching about loyalty obviously knows nothing about the Rooneys. They let Bradshaw go, they let Franco go, if Bettis didn't retire he'd have been let go also. Not to mention all the others. These guys don't pay people who don't produce so they won't pay Hines. They can probably draft a rookie and get more production under the rookie cap than Ward at the veteran minimum. I really hope he just retires, he really wouldn't look right in another uniform.

Since: Nov 17, 2006
Posted on: February 12, 2012 12:23 pm

Report: Ward won't return to Steelers in 2012

he seems pretty reasonable here.He's definitely worth the roster spot at a million a year. We're talking about a potential HOF (definitely not a lock- look at guys like Cris Carter getting snubbed)....even if he's at the bottom of the depth chart- his presence would definitely help the younger receivers. He knows the plays, he knows what it takes to be a champion, and his skills are still the best on the team (although he just doesn't have the athleticism to be high end anymore).

Since: Aug 1, 2007
Posted on: February 12, 2012 12:16 pm

Report: Ward won't return to Steelers in 2012

Agreed frownderman come on Steelers show your loyalty to a HOF WR one that help you win two Super Bowls and was hurt or we might of won another one.

Since: Aug 1, 2007
Posted on: February 12, 2012 12:13 pm

Report: Ward won't return to Steelers in 2012

I just hope the Steelers let him retire a Steeler! anything else would be unacceptable to me. Hines is a true Steeler and deserves the right to retire a Steeler let him coach or something but come-on man!!!!!!!!

Since: Dec 20, 2006
Posted on: February 12, 2012 11:36 am

Report: Ward won't return to Steelers in 2012

The problem with a re-structure is that there are no additional years left on Ward's contract.  This is not like the Woodley or Timmons situation where base pay can be turned into bonus that is prorated over the life of the contract.  In order for Ward to re-structure, they would have to extend his contract an additional year or two, which he probably won't play, and then be forced to carry that dead money against their cap space for a year or two after he's gone.  I really don't see that as being a good trade for the organization.

One other option does exist, but it is tricky.  Ward can be cut out-right before the March 1 deadline, in effect, nullifying his contract.  As a vested veteran, he does not have to clear a waiver process; he is free to sign with anyone.  And then, later in the off-season, the Steelers re-sign him to a reduced, one-year deal.  The difficulty is that free agency is designed to make it hard to do this kind of thing.  The team would have to wait till a later deadline to re-sign him, by which time Ward may have signed with someone else.  And Ward might not be willing to be cut loose entirely and then return because there is no guarantee they would bring him back.  He would have to trust the Steelers to keep their word that they would re-sign him for camp-- and in the meantime he would have to turn down what could be better offers from other teams while waiting out a prescribed time period.  I know the old CBA had several restrictions in it that made this sort of maneuver difficult; I don't know if anything has changed regarding this in the new CBA.

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