Facing the reality of a tight salary-cap situation and a youth movement at wide receiver, the Pittsburgh Steelers will release 14-year veteran Hines Ward, the team announced Wednesday.
The move has been expected. NFL Network’s Jason La Canfora reported earlier this month the Steelers would release Ward, who had two years and $ eight million left on his contract.
Photo gallery: Best of Hines Ward
“We had a conversation right now with Hines Ward and informed him that we program to release him of his contract prior to the start of the 2012 NFL calendar year,” Steelers president Art Rooney II mentioned in a statement posted on the team’s site. “Hines has been an integral element of our good results considering that we drafted him in 1998 and we will forever be grateful for what he has helped us accomplish. He has meant so much to this organization, both on and off the field, and we appreciate his efforts more than the past 14 years.
“Hines’ accomplishments are several, and he will often be thought of as one of the all-time wonderful Steelers. We wish him absolutely nothing but the finest.”
A clause in Ward’s contract most likely prompted the Steelers’ announcement. The Post-Gazette reported in January that his contract stipulated that the receiver must be released or guaranteed his job with the Steelers by March 1.
Ward, who turns 36 subsequent week, released a statement via his attorney moments right after the Steelers’ announcement.
Hines Ward offseason timeline
Jan. 16: Ward seems on NFL Network’s “NFL Total Access” and says, “I’m a Pittsburgh Steeler and plan on becoming there,” also adding: “I haven’t even thought about the hypothetical issue — what if? … I’m a Pittsburgh Steeler now, and hopefully I continue becoming a Pittsburgh Steeler.”
Feb. 3: Ward discloses he had surgery to take away bone fragments from his right ankle and adds that he met with team president Art Rooney II and coach Mike Tomlin without having receiving any guarantees of his return. “They really didn’t say (definitively),” Ward told the Post-Gazette. “It wasn’t great, it wasn’t bad. We were just talking.”
Feb. 10: Sources tell NFL Network insider Jason La Canfora that the Steelers will cut Ward with two years and $ 8 million left on his deal due to the fact of salary-cap issues.
“This isn’t how I wanted this chapter of my career to finish,” mentioned Ward, who will finish his Steelers profession with 1,000 catches for 12,083 yards and 85 touchdowns — all franchise records — and helped Pittsburgh to three AFC championships and two Super Bowl wins. “I did everything in my power to remain a Steeler and finish what I began right here 14 years ago.
“I want to thank the organization, my teammates and coaches and absolutely everyone who made my run as a Steeler the greatest years of my life. To Mr. Rooney, thank you for permitting me to play for one of the greatest organizations in the globe. To my fans and in certain, Steeler Nation, thank you for your support and all the great memories. I gave my heart and soul for you every single down and I will often bleed black and gold.”
Ward added that he has more football left and is “looking forward to playing in the NFL, once more, this upcoming season.”
Ward’s soon-to-be ex-teammates took to Twitter to respond. Wide receiver Antonio Brown told Ward,”You define a ‘Steeler,’ ” and linebacker LaMarr Woodley known as Ward “not only 1 of the greatest WRs ever, but also a excellent leader & even far better friend.”
Ward, a four-time Pro Bowl choice and Super Bowl XL MVP, took a back seat to Mike Wallace, Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown last season, posting his lowest receiving totals (46 receptions, 381 yards, two touchdowns) because his rookie season in 1998.
The Steelers are facing what common manager Kevin Colbert lately named “serious issues” with the salary cap this offseason, and as of Feb. 6, they had been $ 22.five million over the cap, according to NFL.com investigation. Given that then, the team has restructured the contracts of offensive tackle Willie Colon, linebackers LaMarr Woodley and Lawrence Timmons, and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Veteran linebacker James Harrison also has expressed a willingness to re-perform his existing deal.
The Steelers’ offseason priority is to retain Wallace, but La Canfora has reported there is very true concern within the front office that the team could lose the receiver in cost-free agency since of its financial limitations.
(About:) This article was distributed by Syndicated Sports news wire and aggregation service, For far more NFL news see: Rooney: Steelers ‘grateful’ to WR Ward, who’ll be released.