A report is swirling around that Hines Ward may be done in Pittsburgh.
The NFL Network cited unnamed sources who said Ward won’t be back with the team where he’s spent his entire NFL career.
The 35-year-old receiver is due $4 million and his production on the offense isn’t what it once was. The Steelers are also looking to get under the salary cap, and saying goodbye to Ward would help.
Ward had only 46 catches last season, his lowest total since his rookie season in 1998 when he had 15 receptions. His numbers have declined since 2009 when he racked up 95 receptions for 1,167 yards.
Ward’s lack of production resulted in him falling in the depth chart in Pittsburgh, with the focus of the passing game turning to his fellow receivers Mike Wallace (72 catches) and Antonio Brown (69 catches). The duo combined for more than 2,000 yards receiving during the 2011 season, and Wallace had eight touchdowns.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that three players have already restructured their contracts to provide the Steelers with some salary cap relief. Two Steelers linebackers, LaMarr Woodley and Lawrence Timmons, have already restructured their deals. The latest player to help the organization was cornerback Ike Taylor.
Ward said last month that he’s willing to restructure his deal, according to reports. If that doesn’t work, the receiver also stated that he would be open to playing elsewhere because he wants to continue playing football.
But the man who has been in black and gold for his entire career said he would prefer to stay in the Steel City.
“I want to be here. I mean, if they decide they don’t want me here, it’s not my choice,” he said, according to the Post-Gazette. “I wouldn’t see why Steelers fans would be angry at me, if I still think I can play. I want to play here. I don’t want to put on another uniform, but, at the end of the day, it’s not my choice. There’s nothing I can do about it.”