Hines Ward, the franchise’s best-ever leader in just every meaningful receiving category will be released eventually in the following 2 weeks expounded president Art Rooney II on the team’s site. NFL betting lines
Ward, who turns 36 year-old, next week, was anticipated to gain $4 million next season. A newspaper citing a nameless source, said that the Steelers did not approach Ward about taking a salary cut so as to stay on the team. NFL lines
“We had a talk today with Hines Ward and advised him that we plan to release him of his contract before the start of the 2012 NFL calendar year,” Rooney said. “Hines has been a vital component of our success since we drafted him in 1998, and we will forever be grateful for what he has helped us achieve.”
A 4-time Pro Bowl selection and MVP of the 2006 Super Bowl, Ward will finish his Steelers career with 1,000 catches, 12,083 yards and 85 receiving touchdowns. He helped Pittsburgh to 3 American Football Conference (AFC) championships and two Super Bowl victories.
“This isn’t the best way I wanted this chapter of my career to finish,” Ward said in an announcement. “I did everything in my part to remain a Steeler and end what I started here 14 years ago.”
A 3rd-round pick out of Georgia, Ward developed a reputation as one of the league’s best blocking wide receivers, a characteristic that endeared him to the blue-collar fan base of one of the league’s marquee organizations.
Ward was excellent at catching passes as well, especially in the postseason. He helped the Steelers to their 5th Super Bowl in 2006 catching 5 passes for 123 receiving yards and a touchdown in a 21-10 win over Seattle.
“He has meant so much to this organization, both on and off the field,” Rooney declared, “and we recognize his accomplishments over the last 14 years.”
By the end of the 2011 season, Ward found himself on the sidelines for long stretches as youngsters Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown turned into quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s favorite targets.
Both receivers topped 1,100 yards receiving and mixed for 10 touchdowns, while Ward had just 46 catches for 381 yards and 2 scores. It was actually the worst reception total since his rookie year (15).
Ward took the demotion in stride and relished the role of elder statesmen. Wallace, Brown and Emmanuel Sanders credited Ward for helping mature both on and off the field.
All 3 players were hoping Ward may come back for another go, but accepted they were nearing the end of an era.
In a franchise built on the churning legs of Franco Harris, Rocky Bleier and Jerome Bettis, Ward matured into one of the league’s most reliable receivers while serving as a security blanket for everybody from Kordell Stewart to Tommy Maddox to Roethlisberger. Ward has six 1,000-yards receiving seasons, and just missed 2 more, posting 975 in both 2005-06 and 2006-07. He also returned 8 kicks for 210 yards.
In his last game as a Steeler, a 29-23 postseason, overtime loss to the Denver Broncos on January 8, Ward didn’t record a catch.
The final pass thrown to him in a Steeler uniform came on Pittsburgh’s final drive when Roethlisberger tried to hit Ward running down the sideline. Denver defensive back Champ Bailey knocked it away, leaving Ward to face an uncertain future.