The Steelers announced on Wednesday that receiver Hines Ward will be cut. In response, Ward said he still wants to play.
“I do feel that I still have more football left in me and I am looking forward to playing in the NFL again this upcoming season,” Ward said, via the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
“This isn’t how I wanted this chapter of my career to end. I did everything in my power to remain a Steeler and finish what I started here 14 years ago,” Ward added. “I want to thank the organization, my teammates and coaches and everyone who made my run as a Steeler the best years of my life. To Mr. Rooney, thank you for allowing me to play for one of the greatest organizations in the world. To my fans and in particular Steeler Nation, thank you for your support and all the great memories. I gave my heart and soul for you every down and I will always bleed black and gold.”
Ward previously had said he’d be willing to take a pay cut from his $4 million salary to stay with the team. But even at the 10-plus-year veteran minimum of $925,000, Ward had fallen too far down the depth chart to justify having a roster spot and not playing special teams.
Other teams could be interested. Former Steelers offensive coordinators Ken Whisenhunt and Mike Mularkey are coaching the Cardinals and Jaguars, respectively. Also, as Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune pointed out, Ward played for Bears receivers coach Darryl Drake at Georgia.
It will be strange, to say the least, to see Ward playing for a team other than the Steelers. But no stranger than seeing another guy who entered the league in 1998 inevitably playing for a team other than the Colts.