Ward announced Wednesday in a statement that he has retired from professional football. The 35-year-old defensive back hasn't played in a game since 2017, but he resurfaced with the Cardinals' practice squad at one point in 2020. Ward made 99 NFL starts for three different teams, peaking in the 2013 and 2014 seasons, when he earned back-to-back Pro Bowl nods for the Browns and Broncos, respectively. His best statistical seasons mostly came in Cleveland, but Ward is arguably better known as part of the "No Fly Zone" for dominant Denver secondaries in 2014 and 2015.
The Cardinals signed Ward to the practice squad Thursday. Ward will provide Arizona with emergency veteran depth at the safety position. The two-time Pro Bowler hasn't played since 2017.
Ward worked out for the Jaguars on Saturday as the 32-year-old intends to make his return to the NFL in 2019, ESPN's Adam Schefter reports. Ward did not play in 2018 after appearing in 12 games with the Buccaneers throughout his 2017 campaign, when he amassed 43 tackles (31 solo) and three passes defensed. The two-time Pro Bowler could provide a willing suitor with a veteran presence in the secondary, but at 32, Ward's peak playing days are behind him.
The charges for Ward's October arrest for possession of cannabis and drug paraphernalia have been dropped, Jenna Laine of ESPN.com reports. Ward is currently a free agent after finishing his eighth pro season with 43 tackles (31 solo) and three pass breakups through 12 games for Tampa Bay. The 31-year-old struggled with knee and hip injuries along with a concussion, so any team willing to sign Ward must be on board with injury issues that likely won't disappear with age. Ward is just two seasons removed from averaging 6.2 tackles per game and forcing three fumbles in 2016.
Ward (knee) was arrested Wednesday morning in Tampa on a felony count of marijuana possession and a misdemeanor count of possession of drug paraphernalia, Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times reports. Ward posted bond and was released from jail shortly after his arrest, but he'll likely have to report to court at some point in the months to come and could face discipline from the NFL. A three-time Pro Bowler from 2013 through 2015, Ward has seen his effectiveness wane the past two seasons and was forced to settle for a part-time role with the Buccaneers in 2017. Ward, who sustained what is believed to be a minor knee injury in the Buccaneers' season finale Sunday against the Saints, will become a free agent this offseason.
|4||10/03||@Los Angeles Rams||12|
|5||10/10||San Francisco 49ers||21|
|8||10/28||Green Bay Packers||31|
|9||11/07||@San Francisco 49ers||21|
|14||12/13||Los Angeles Rams||12|