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.

gerrydulac
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

gerrydulac
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.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're at it, add our RSS Feed
  •  
Comments

Since: Oct 14, 2006
Posted on: February 29, 2012 6:47 pm
 

Steelers set to release WR Hines Ward

Cheers!  to one of the greatest Steelers of all time!   We will see you again  H Ward as you take your rightful place into the Steelers wing of the HOF!



Since: Jan 7, 2009
Posted on: February 29, 2012 6:44 pm
 

Steelers set to release WR Hines Ward

What is all the sadness about? Ward has been a great player for a long time. Will go into the Hall of Fame, made millions, and is respected as a player who played the game with all his God given talent. He also has a couple of Super Bowl Rings. His career is complete. But if he wants to try to catch on with another team, go for it. Pittsburg is very greatful for having one of the greats, to go along with all the other greats that have played there.
He will eventually be back in some capacity. Probably next year. Just think of it as Ward having a season ending injury, next year he will either be a coach or a broadcaster.



Since: Sep 25, 2009
Posted on: February 29, 2012 6:40 pm
 

Steelers set to release WR Hines Ward

Not a Steelers fan but I don't really want to see him in another uniform. Still, even if he plays for another team, I don't think it will do a thing to his legacy and everyone will still identify him as a Steeler. Montana finished with the Chiefs, Rice finished with the Raiders, Michael Jordan finished for the Wizards, and Brett Favre finished with the Vikings, but everyone only really remembers their main teams. Everyone will remember Peyton Manning as a Colt as well if he signs somewhere else to finish his career.

I guess when you're done you're really done for life, so I can't blame the guy for wanting to play another season if he feels he has it in him and he just wants to be around football. I am sure when he's really finished the Steelers will hire him on as a WR coach or something.



Since: Jul 6, 2007
Posted on: February 29, 2012 6:37 pm
 

Steelers set to release WR Hines Ward

This is like some reverse lebron, pujols shiz. Cept hines us older. Betrayed by the team even though he always played his heart out for them. Interedted to see how pit fans react



Since: Sep 27, 2011
Posted on: February 29, 2012 6:35 pm
 

Steelers set to release WR Hines Ward

ONe less cheap shot artist in football



Since: Mar 1, 2008
Posted on: February 29, 2012 6:34 pm
 

Steelers set to release WR Hines Ward

Not a Steeler fan but Hines was a great and entertaining player. Hopefully he can generate one more productive season for a team before retiring.



Since: Mar 9, 2010
Posted on: February 29, 2012 6:32 pm
 

Steelers set to release WR Hines Ward

Hines you are a class act!!! although it might be time to hang it up. thanks for all you have done.



Since: Jan 21, 2007
Posted on: February 29, 2012 6:31 pm
 

Steelers set to release WR Hines Ward

Even as a Chargers fan, I respected the way Hines Ward's play brought to the game. He's a pro's pro and a future Hall Of Famer.



Since: Dec 22, 2009
Posted on: February 29, 2012 6:18 pm
 

Steelers set to release WR Hines Ward

THANK YOU Hines Ward ! ! ! 



Since: Jan 6, 2010
Posted on: February 29, 2012 6:12 pm
 

Steelers set to release WR Hines Ward

A sad day indeed.  Hines was one of the best of all time in every facet of the game involving wide receivers.  He could run flawless routes, got open on broken plays, solid at YAC, and a fearless blocker.  The only one better was Rices but old Jerry couldn't or wouldn't throw a block if his life depended on it. 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. Good luck to you Hines and if you retire now, in five years we will see you in Canton.


The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com