Blog Entry

Steelers set to release WR Hines Ward

Posted on: February 29, 2012 5:38 pm
Edited on: February 29, 2012 8:06 pm
Hines Ward was Super Bowl XL MVP and the face of the Steelers  for more than a decade. (Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

After 14 seasons, 1,000 receptions and 85 touchdowns, Hines Ward's tenure in Pittsburgh is all but over. It was once a matter of if, now it's when, and team president Art Rooney II provided those details Wednesday.

“We had a conversation today with Hines Ward and informed him that we plan to release him of his contract prior to the start of the 2012 NFL calendar year,” Rooney told the team’s website.

“Hines has been an integral part of our success since we drafted him in 1998 and we will forever be grateful for what he has helped us achieve. He has meant so much to this organization, both on and off the field, and we appreciate his efforts over the past 14 years. Hines’ accomplishments are numerous, and he will always be thought of as one of the all-time great Steelers. We wish him nothing but the best.”

Ward released a statement of his own (via NFL Network's Andrew Siciliano):

"This isn't how I wanted this chapter of my career to end. I did everything in my power to remain a Steeler and finish what I started here 14 years ago," he said. "I want to thank the organization, my teammates and coaches and everyone who made my run as a Steeler the best years of my life. To Mr. Rooney, thank you for allowing me to play for one of the greatest organizations in the world. To my fans and in particular, Steeler Nation, thank you for your support and all the great memories. I gave my heart and soul for you every down and I will always bleed black and gold. I do feel that I still have more football left in me and I am looking forward to playing in the NFL, again, this upcoming season."

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Gerry Dulac tweeted Wednesday that the organization felt that Ward had nothing left.

Decision to release 86 was not about money. He could've offered to play for free and wouldn't matter. Coaches feel he can't play anymore.
2/29/12 7:12 PM

Ward would have been Sunday inactive if Steelers kept him. They didn't want him taking a roster spot at expense of developing young player.
2/29/12 7:14 PM

The 2011 season was Ward's worst since his rookie campaign; he lost his starting job to second-year standout Antonio Brown and managed just 46 catches for 381 yards (and a career-worst 8.3 YPC average), and two touchdowns. Part of Ward's decline can be blamed on age (he's 35), but he also suffered a severely sprained ankle in Week 4's loss to the Texans.

Whatever the explanation, the Steelers are ready to move on without him, which means that the 2012 offense will feature quarterback Ben Roethlisberger throwing to Brown, Emmanuel Sanders and Mike Wallace -- assuming the team extends his contract (he won't be franchised, at least to hear general manager Kevin Colbert at last week's combine). The three wideouts, none older than 25, constitute one of the league's most dynamic receiver corps, which should make new offensive coordinator Todd Haley's job a lot easier.

Ward, meanwhile, thinks he has a few years left. It just won't be in Pittsburgh -- unless the team re-signs him later this the summer, perhaps an option given that there are currently three wide receivers on the roster. More likely: the Steelers make a run at Jerricho Cotchery, who they signed to a one-year deal before the 2011 season to be the No. 5 wideout. By December, he had also surpassed Ward on the depth chart and proved to be a capable underneath target and a willing blocker.

While the Steelers continue their free agency and draft preparations, and Ward contemplates his NFL future, the conversation will inevitably turn to the latter's Hall of Fame credentials. In our minds, he's a lock. Then again, we don't have a vote.

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Since: Nov 11, 2006
Posted on: March 1, 2012 11:13 am

Steelers set to release WR Hines Ward

We have a home in San Francisco for you Hines.  Hes just the veteran WR the 49ers are in DIRE need of.

Jeez, can it be any easier JED YORK?? 

Peyton MAnning
DeSean Jackson
Hines Ward

3 years ago, this would be WAAAAAAy too expensive.

Manning comes with a contract that doesnt give him too much guaranteed.
DeSean will get his, but Hines will sign on the cheap.


Since: Oct 25, 2011
Posted on: March 1, 2012 11:03 am

Steelers set to release WR Hines Ward

What a bad situation for both parties.  I've always liked Ward for who he is, both the good and the bad.  Any of us would have been happy to have him on our team.  I think Ward will have another good year or two.  Could be some good football if he played the Steelers again.

Since: Mar 5, 2009
Posted on: March 1, 2012 10:50 am

Steelers set to release WR Hines Ward

I'll always remember Hines as being "pancaked" by Jarrett Johnson on that fake inside lob.  I'll also remember him taking a wild round about swing and miss at someone, then running away like a little girl.  He WAS good, however, at delivering blind side shots and smiling.

Since: Mar 1, 2012
Posted on: March 1, 2012 10:33 am
This comment has been removed.

Post Deleted by Administrator

Since: Mar 17, 2009
Posted on: March 1, 2012 10:23 am

Steelers set to release WR Hines Ward

The Steelers are a class organization and I expected much more from them than to treat a guy who gave 1000% all the time in this fashion.  Would it have killed them to give the guy a little money and use him as the #4 receiver, God knows he can still catch even if the burst is gone.

This will come back to bite the Steelers as the players close to Hines will remember this and think twice about helping the Steelers out contract wise should they need it.  Hometown discounts just went out the door as they know how they will be dealt with the moment they lose 100% burst.

Thank you Hines for all the memories.  You are officially my #4 favorite steeler of all time behind Jack Lambert, Terry Bradshaw, and John Stallworth....not bad company my man.

Since: Dec 1, 2008
Posted on: March 1, 2012 10:21 am

Steelers set to release WR Hines Ward

CODYPRKR, Great post!  I couldn't have said it any better myself.  I am not a fan of hm being let go, but facts are facts.

Since: Dec 1, 2008
Posted on: March 1, 2012 10:20 am

Steelers set to release WR Hines Ward

Hines will always be one of the all time greatest Steelers.  Make room for him in Canton!

Since: Sep 7, 2006
Posted on: March 1, 2012 9:43 am

Steelers set to release WR Hines Ward

there is no Steeler mystique, there is nothing special about the black and gold - in the end, there is only business, a business that takes advantage of the fans blind loyalty to make money, and more money.  Once your time is done - you are ushered to the door...  period //
we, as fans collectively, take this sh*t way more seriously and devote more time to it than it deserves... 

Since: Dec 13, 2011
Posted on: March 1, 2012 8:34 am

Steelers set to release WR Hines Ward

I'll always remember Hines Ward fighting to catch floating passes from Kordell Stewart. What effort (and much was required). What a great Steeler. You'll be missed Hines.

Since: Aug 19, 2011
Posted on: March 1, 2012 7:34 am

Steelers set to release WR Hines Ward

Its too bad, Hines Ward was great. He's a HOF player. He probably does have another good year left in him, but the Steelers have too much depth at WR for Hines to still be there. He will be missed. It will be weird seeing him in another uniform, if he signs somewhere else hopefully it will be in the NFC.

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