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: Jan 4, 2010
Posted on: February 29, 2012 7:44 pm

Steelers set to release WR Hines Ward

Tampa will get him. The Glaziers love to bring in great yet burnt out players for cheap. He can though teach Williams to try to wake back up and play, maybe.

Since: Dec 7, 2009
Posted on: February 29, 2012 7:41 pm

Steelers set to release WR Hines Ward

First Peyton Manning sits poised to be cast off from the Colts, and now Hines Ward is being cast off from the Steelers.  Can you imagine if Jack Kent Cooke were still around?  The former Redskins owner (and the one who architected their 1970s rennaissance) might find the prospect of a new Over-the-Hill Gang too tempting to pass up.

They should stick with the plan to deal with the Rams and take RGIII with the 2nd overall draft pick.  While Dan Snyder shares Al Davis' special knack for screwing-up certain successes like Griffin, he doesn't share Davis' obsession with grabbing surprise receivers on the rebound.  They seem unlikely to take Ward on waivers; and hopefully the Niners don't get any bright ideas about that (no matter how badly they need a few good receivers).

Since: Feb 20, 2009
Posted on: February 29, 2012 7:36 pm

Yes, Hines a lock for HOF

Super Bowl MVP, the best blocker among WRs in the NFL, plus 1000 receptions and 86 (his shirt mumber) TDs. Nuff said. Hines should hold no animosity -- he's 36 years old, way old by NFL standards. The Steelers were more than loyal to him for an eternity by football standards. This Steeler fan salutes you, Hines.

Since: Jan 14, 2007
Posted on: February 29, 2012 7:19 pm

Steelers set to release WR Hines Ward

WOW  If Hines Ward is healthy, he's still one of the best receivers in the NFL..  I hope New England picks him up..  It would be sweet chin music for New England to win one more title and Ward be a part of that by defeating Pitsburg along the way.  It would be comparable to Ray Bourque swapping teams to gain his title..  Well not exactly, but NE is close to winning it, as long as the Giants aren't in the finals with them.

Since: Mar 15, 2011
Posted on: February 29, 2012 7:11 pm

Steelers set to release WR Hines Ward

 Unfortunately, great players face a moment when they are no longer up to their moments of 
greatness from previous years. Hines is my favorite receiver of all time and it will be sad seeing
him play elsewhere, or possibly retiring. I hope he can play a little longer somewhere. 

Since: Jun 8, 2008
Posted on: February 29, 2012 7:05 pm

Steelers set to release WR Hines Ward

Good luck to you Hines and if you retire now, in five years we will see you in Canton.
Lol, hope Tim Brown and Chris Carter are in before that.

Ask Neon Dion if he ever tackled Ward...oh, wait Neon would trip over the 10 yard line if Hines were coming straight at him
Everyone knows Prime Time couldn't tackle ... Troy Aikman ran him over one time.

Since: Jul 5, 2008
Posted on: February 29, 2012 7:00 pm

Steelers set to release WR Hines Ward

Hines Ward,

Congrats on a wonderful career with the Steelers.  You are the heart of their team and its quite obvious that age caught up with you.  You might think you have a few years left in you somewhere...and that might be...but would hate to see you go out like Jerry Rice and dabble with a couple teams to eventually hanging up the cleats.

Be proud of what you have accomplished!  Your career has been amazing by playing in three Super Bowls and winning two of them.  You have done plenty and are a true star.  Afterall, another highlight was being only the 2nd football player to win at Dancing with the Stars.  You and Emmit stand alone with that.  A true ambassador to the NFL! 

Thanks for the great memories! 

Since: Aug 18, 2006
Posted on: February 29, 2012 6:53 pm

Steelers set to release WR Hines Ward

Mike D you are right.  Rice was not nearly as big as Ward, but he could definately block.  2nd best of all time?  He was great for a long time, true, bnut not even second best of his contemporaries.  Moss and Owens hate to admit it, were the two best of that generation, and Harrison wasn't too shabby either.

Since: Jan 22, 2012
Posted on: February 29, 2012 6:51 pm

Steelers set to release WR Hines Ward

Said by ReedDisBetter:
ONe less cheap shot artist in football
You really think no one is going to sign him?  He'll be on a roster before the end of free agency.  Your team could use a guy like Ward, he can catch the ball.  Shoot, he may even be an upgrade at placekicker.

Since: Oct 17, 2006
Posted on: February 29, 2012 6:49 pm

Steelers set to release WR Hines Ward

Goldpanther I don't know how much you watched J Rice, but I did, a lot, and he was an above average blocker. As far as Ward being the 2nd best WR of all time - you are out of your Steeler loving mind.

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