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: Jul 19, 2011
Posted on: February 29, 2012 9:27 pm

Steelers set to release WR Hines Ward

hines is one of the last of a dying breed in the nfl, a tough receiver

Since: Jul 19, 2011
Posted on: February 29, 2012 9:22 pm

Steelers set to release WR Hines Ward

better than ANY of your crap recievers!!

Since: Sep 27, 2011
Posted on: February 29, 2012 9:16 pm

Steelers set to release WR Hines Ward

You people are delusional if you think anyone will sign this guy haha. Ward is a cheapshot artist thats was a good player. Or a good player that was acheap shot artist. Whichever you prefer its all the same and he will be officially retired in the next month.

Since: Aug 21, 2006
Posted on: February 29, 2012 9:13 pm

Steelers set to release WR Hines Ward

Unless he signs with the Patriots. Then he's just as bad as Jagr.

Two completely different situations, Jagr tunred down the Pens for the Flyers. If Ward gets signed by the Pats I will have no will ill at all, he practically begged them to keep him and they didn't. Now if he wants to play he will go to whoever is willing to sign him, there won't be a ton of suitors so if it's the Pats so be it. Although I think he would probably retire before he played for Baltimore, but they would probably burn down their stadium before they thought of signing him. 

Since: Oct 28, 2011
Posted on: February 29, 2012 8:52 pm

Steelers set to release WR Hines Ward

  HINES WARD sacrificed himself every Sunday for his entire career with the Steelers. He took hit after hit as well as laying out some pretty big hits himself all in the name of trying to get the Steelers to the Super Bowl. This is how you show your appreciation to a man that bleeds Black n Gold ?? He may be past his prime, but he deserves far better than this ?? The thought of Hines Ward finishing his career on another team brings back the horrible visions of seeing Franco Harris in a Seahawks uniform...IT'S JUST WRONG !!!

  Hines, as a diehard Steelers fan I want to thank you so much for how hard you played and how dedicated you were to making the Steelers so great all these years. I hope to see you coach someday and bring that same enthusiasm and smile to the sidelines that you have had on the field all these years....Good luck and God Bless you in your future....

Since: Aug 30, 2006
Posted on: February 29, 2012 8:41 pm

Steelers set to release WR Hines Ward

that will B Da  "BEST DAY EVER!!!!!"  GO AWAY NOW HINES BORED!!!!!!! Go Away!!   PURTY PLEEZE!!!     Tongue out

Since: Dec 8, 2006
Posted on: February 29, 2012 8:19 pm

Steelers set to release WR Hines Ward

It was time.  

Since: Jul 27, 2008
Posted on: February 29, 2012 7:59 pm

Steelers set to release WR Hines Ward

It will be a sad day to see Hines in another uniform. If this move allows the Steelers to franchise Wallace, then it's a tough pill to swallow, but it has to be done.  He had a stellar career in the 'burgh and will always be one of my favorite Steelers of all time. I wish him the best in all of his future endeavors. Unless he signs with the Patriots. Then he's just as bad as Jagr.

Since: Mar 14, 2007
Posted on: February 29, 2012 7:57 pm

Steelers set to release WR Hines Ward

ESPN has "Chink in the armour" headline in their hip pocket and ready to go for this story.  Expect them to release it tonight around 2am.

Since: Nov 4, 2008
Posted on: February 29, 2012 7:54 pm

Steelers set to release WR Hines Ward

Hines.. You are the epitome of Steeler toughness and should be a first ballot HOF'er regardless of what present thoughts might be.
Don't risk your health attempting to improve on greatness, your legacy is already established. Thank you from a life-long Canadian Steeler fan....

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