Some interesting news tonight as NFL Network insider Jason La Canfora told NFL Total Access Friday night that Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward will not be back next season despite his willingness to take a pay cut. La Canfora states in his report that Ward has one year left on his contract, but my records indicate that Ward is signed though the 2013 season. He is scheduled to count $4.61 million against the Steelers 2012 salary cap right now with a base salary of $4 million. If the Steelers choose to terminate the contract of Ward, they will save $3.39 million.
Ward has said that he wants to play until the wheels fall off and has made it very clear that he is willing to take a pay cut to end his illustrious career with the only team he has ever played for since being drafted in the 3rd round of the 1998 NFL draft. Ward also has made it sound that he is willing to play for another team should the Steelers not want him back in 2012. It will be interesting if Ward or the Steelers quickly confirm or deny this story and La Canfora is really taking a chance again in reporting this.
Ward saw his playing time drop off severely in 2011, as he saw just under 500 snaps on offense. He suffered an ankle injury in week 7 against the Arizona Cardinals and it forced him to miss the week 8 game against the New England Patriots as a result. Ward also was knocked out of the week 9 game early against the Baltimore Ravens with concussion-like symptoms, but he did manage however to crack the 12,000 yard receiving mark in 2011 and recorded his 1,000th career catch as well in the last regular season game against the Cleveland Browns.
If indeed the report by La Canfora ends up coming to fruition, the Steelers might have their sights set at trying to retain unrestricted free agent wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery instead of Ward.