Hines Ward\’s Future Up In Proverbial Air

Ben Roethlisberger, Hines Ward

(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Hines Ward\’s future with the Steelers is on the decision block and his future with the team will most likely be decided on March 1. 2012, due to a roster bonus he is due. At the Super Bowl media center Thursday, Ward was adamant that he\’d be with the Steelers. It\’s true that in the last year of Bruce Arians\’ offense, Ward was devalued, but Arians is gone and that may or may not bode well for the 14-year veteran out of Georgia. Ward is scheduled to earn $4 million in the last two years of his contract, and has insisted he\’s willing to take a cut to stay with the team.

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Ward spoke with head coach Mike Tomlin on Monday at the Steelers\’ South Side facility and also to President Art Rooney II prior to that. Ward told Ed Bouchette, “I just wanted to let them know I want to be here, I want to play.” It appears that regardless of his 1,000th career catch, his 12,083 yards receiving, 85 touchdowns and excellent blocking ability, Rooney nor Tomlin gave Ward a specific answer regarding his standing. “They really didn\’t say,” Ward responded to the question over what might have been said.

Ward has been the highest quality receiver in the history of the Steelers, but he saw his totals drop off significantly when he was relegated to the sideline during the 2011 season. Ward wouldn\’t speculate whether it was Arians\’ fault, and wasn\’t interested in discussing last season. His non-response was to say that he\’d rather say nothing than be negative.

Regardless of the salary cap pressures and the fact that Ward, who will turn 36 on Mar. 8, had off-season surgery to remove fragments of bone in his right ankle – the Steelers really could use Ward in 2012. Depending on who the new offensive coordinator becomes, Ward has the veteran experience to adapt to a new scheme and adds additional power to the rushing game should the Steelers ignore the NFL\’s new trend to have air battles every week.

The fact that Ward is one of the best blocking receivers in the entire league could be a huge benefit, especially if the Steelers buck the system and find a way to create a powerful running game during the off-season and Spring Training. With teams looking to create a very complicated passing scheme to catch up with the trend (imitating the Packers and Patriots), the Steelers, a traditionally good rushing team, could catch others off-guard by re-establishing that tradition. Ward would be key in that type of offense.

Fans, of course, would love to see Ward retire in a Steelers jersey. And not one of them would deny the fact that they love to see his smile every single week on the field.

About the Author

Christina L. Rivers
Born in 1972, Christina L. Rivers follows in her maternal Grandmother's shoes as a writer. Christina is currently a journalist for Examiner.com, and writes for several blogs. She has recently been added as a writer for SteelersDepot and 'The Beam' in Pittsburgh. Christina's favorite Steelers players of all-time are Terry Bradshaw, Franco Harris, Jerome Bettis, Ben Roethlisberger, Troy Polamalu and LaMarr Woodley. She is active on Twitter @3Rivers_Writer. Christina also enjoys collecting NFL cards, and has over 5,000 individual Steelers cards, some as old as the late 1950s.
  • Mike OReilly

    Ward is, and always was, a truly a class act, no matter how this turns out. He is a role model for young players in many ways, but especially in how to deal with the “business aspects” of their chosen profession. Good luck Hines in 2012, but hopefully it will be while you are still wearing the Black n’ Gold!
    Mike O’

  • I’ll go on record saying I think Ward stays for a couple of reasons:
    1: He is still a top redzone threat. Being relegated to the sidelines had as much to do with BA and his feud with Ben as it did with a dropoff in skills
    2: He’ll take less money to play here
    3: Cotchery is likely gone, or at least to be much more expensive now that he showed he still has value after back surgery
    4: Battle is gone, and if Cotchery goes, that leaves only Wallace, Brown and Sanders on the roster at WR.

  • Doug WILLIAD

    BIG BEN healthy hold the ball to long -evening a good OC line will break down.

  • Tobinhaynes

    ward is steelers football point blank