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Hines Ward wasn’t given a chance to take a pay cut

Pittsburgh Steelers v San Francisco 49ers Getty Images

In the latter years of his career in Pittsburgh, running back Jerome Bettis willingly took less money in order to remain with the Steelers.  Receiver Hines Ward would have done the same thing, if asked.

He wasn’t asked.

Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the Steelers didn’t offer to keep Ward at a reduced contract.  Which means that, ultimately, it wasn’t about money but perceived ability.

Ward already had fallen far enough down the depth chart to make it hard to keep him around without expecting him to contribute on special teams.  And so it’s not a surprise that they made the always-difficult decision to assess the player without regard to the name on the back of the jersey.

Ward could have freed up as much as $3.075 million by dropping his salary from $4 million to the veteran minimum (for players with 10 or more years in the league) of $925,000.  Under the minimum salary benefit, the Steelers could have terminated his contract and eventually re-signed him to a one-year, $925,000 contract that would have counted as only $540,000 against the salary cap — nearly $3.5 million less than his number entering the season.

Instead, the Steelers opted for a divorce.

At least they didn’t try to claim that Ward had decided to retire.

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41 Responses to “Hines Ward wasn’t given a chance to take a pay cut”
  1. mikebe1 says: Mar 1, 2012 8:29 AM

    Sad way to see a great reicever go.

  2. nedhigginssports says: Mar 1, 2012 8:30 AM

    Cut ties with this guy but keep upstanding citizens like forceable entry roethlisberger and domestic violence Harrison. The Steelers as a “class” organization, the greatest myth since unicorns.

  3. redguy12588 says: Mar 1, 2012 8:31 AM

    Now we know why the Steelers tried so hard to get him his 1000 catches. A WR that can’t even average 9 yards a catch clearly doesn’t have anything left.

    Thanks for all you did Hines, you were the best player on this team for a long time.

  4. vdaigglesfan says: Mar 1, 2012 8:57 AM

    It was sad at the end. He was but a shadow of the former cheap shot artist.

  5. j0esixpack says: Mar 1, 2012 9:00 AM

    Ward simply isn’t worth the $1 million cap hit.

    I’ve long thought the league should grant a certain amount of cap exemption of some amount that would be for players who served 10+ years consistently for the same team.

    That would allow teams to hold on to veterans who can play leadership roles with the team a little while longer.

    The positive impact for individual teams and the NFL as a whole would be positive and significant.

  6. peytonwantsaflag says: Mar 1, 2012 9:11 AM

    So, you’re saying he was blindsided?

    Karma really is a bitch.

  7. sportsmeccabi says: Mar 1, 2012 9:12 AM

    Hines Ward got 86ed. Hehe

  8. ridingwithnohandlebars says: Mar 1, 2012 9:12 AM

    still havent seen another receiver outrun a collapsing field as well as him

  9. effedinLA says: Mar 1, 2012 9:17 AM

    Empty roster spot > Hines Ward.
    Steelers are harsh.

  10. godcanfirealdavis says: Mar 1, 2012 9:17 AM

    Take a seat….

  11. myspaceyourface says: Mar 1, 2012 9:19 AM

    Nothing personal, strictly business.

    Steeler Nation will LOVE you forever, but we need to keep a guy in Wallace that is part of our future.

    HIRE HINES AS WR COACH

  12. freebird2011 says: Mar 1, 2012 9:19 AM

    Ward has a future as an NFL WRs coach.

    An excellent route runner coupled with his being one of the best blocking WRs of all-time make him a candidate to pass along those skills learned over a long and successful career.

  13. fin72 says: Mar 1, 2012 9:20 AM

    Perhaps they are trying to distance themselves from future concussion liabilities.

  14. cowboyhater says: Mar 1, 2012 9:20 AM

    I hate the criticisms from aging veterans who knock their organizations that have taken care of them for their entire career. These vets just need to hang up the cleats once their productivity is no longer at the NFL standards, and stop trying to force their teams to continue keeping them on their rosters, and taking up a roster spot and cap money. He made his money, and had a nice career. Retire with class Hines, and just face the reality of where your abilities are at this point.

  15. blackqbwhiterb says: Mar 1, 2012 9:24 AM

    he Steelers have always been known for letting a guy go a year too early sometimes, but NEVER keeping a guy a year too long. Business as usual for Pitt, although he certainly was an exceptional Steeler for a long time.

  16. joemammy says: Mar 1, 2012 9:25 AM

    I’d like the Browns to pick him up as a coach. The recievers ned to work on their rhythm and footwork.

    And the offensive line can’t dance worth a flip.

  17. selgaeinla says: Mar 1, 2012 9:28 AM

    Hope this blind sided him like he did when he broke that guys jaw. Good riddance to a dirty player.

  18. richardhurtz says: Mar 1, 2012 9:29 AM

    Ward simply can’t play anymore. Period. He was a decent possession receiver who had a knack for blocking down field and taking cheap shots at DBs that were paying attention but now it is time to go. I’m sure he’ll turn up on one of the talking head NFL shows and continue to make nice coin so stop crying for Hines Ward.

  19. tommyribs says: Mar 1, 2012 9:30 AM

    The Steelers said he was suffering from: ‘Retirement-like’ Symptoms.

  20. puckthefatriots says: Mar 1, 2012 9:31 AM

    I’ll miss that smiling face

  21. bigjdve says: Mar 1, 2012 9:36 AM

    I hope he signs somewhere and makes them pay for getting rid of him.

  22. stevincinci says: Mar 1, 2012 9:37 AM

    Good ridence, jaw breaker.

  23. klucky97 says: Mar 1, 2012 9:37 AM

    as a pats fan ..this is sad news hines is a class act guy and then he gets treated like this …steelers organization should be ashamed of themselves

  24. romoscollarbone says: Mar 1, 2012 9:40 AM

    Hopefully he does retire so he can start his countdown to Canton. No need to go thru the rigors for 15 catches and a TD or two. Take sometime, and come back and coach.

  25. swannypit77 says: Mar 1, 2012 9:52 AM

    Hines was my favorite Steeler for many years. I even ranked him above the “BUS”! That being said, it was time for Ward to go. My primary loyalty is to the Steelers, not the players. It’s a shame, but it’s reality in this day and age. Those of us in Steeler Nation will always be grateful for what Hines did as a Steeler!!!!

  26. trueski21 says: Mar 1, 2012 9:56 AM

    not sure why people are calling him a class act, he was almost always at the top of the “dirtiest players” list.

  27. steeelfann says: Mar 1, 2012 9:59 AM

    Whether you were looking or not, the guy was hands down, a devastating blocker, probably best blocking wide out of all time.

    What should not be lost is his greatness as a receiver. He had good speed in younger years, and fantastic hands. He had many a carry from the backfield and 99% of the time had yards after contact. He dragged people for many a yard in his day. The guy was an absolute stud and had a nose for end zone or first down.

    He was a beast for his size, extremely strong and very, very clutch.

    Hines Ward is the man.

  28. CKL says: Mar 1, 2012 10:05 AM

    klucky97 says:
    Mar 1, 2012 9:37 AM
    as a pats fan ..this is sad news hines is a class act guy and then he gets treated like this …steelers organization should be ashamed of themselves
    –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
    You have a right to feel however you want;however, I’m surprised a Pats fan would consider a guy who thinks they got all their titles through cheating and keeps saying so would consider Ward classy.

    There’s nothing wrong with what the Steelers did or how they handled it IMO. The guy clearly doesn’t want to retire. What choice do they have but to let him go so he can pursue playing with another team? It’s a business. Hines held out several years ago and the Steelers didn’t hold that against HIM. He was doing what he felt he needed to to get paid.

  29. totallydisgusted says: Mar 1, 2012 10:44 AM

    What’s up with the Steelers front office? They used to be a classy group. Guys like Ward you don’t treat like this nor the coordinator that “retired”. I think Ward is done, but wish him the best. seemed like a good guy and was a great receiver. He needs to go to team that would accept him I’m a player/coach position for cheap.

  30. johntonioholmes says: Mar 1, 2012 10:48 AM

    The guy did not have size or speed, but he had good hands and was probably one of the smartest route runners to ever play the game.

    He had to be because there was no way that he was fast or big enough to get 1000 catches.

    There will pretty much never be another player like Hines. Tight ends don’t even block, let alone receivers.

  31. christopher525 says: Mar 1, 2012 10:58 AM

    Cut Hines, don’t re-sign Wallace, smart moves in Pittsburgh.

  32. johntonioholmes says: Mar 1, 2012 11:01 AM

    trueski21

    They’re probably calling him a class act because of the tremendous amount of charity work that he has done.

    They’re probably calling him a class act because he trained every single receiver that came through the doors after 1998, and he did it well and without hesitation.

    Favre wouldn’t do that for Rodgers.

    They’re probably calling him a class act because, unlike 99.999% of the other receivers in the league, he was a team player.

    How often did Randy Moss, Chad Johnson or T.O. block when they were asked to? Marvin Harrison didn’t do it until 2007. Unlike Chad Johnson, he never pouted when the ball wasn’t getting thrown his way.

    He was the consummate team player.

  33. isujames says: Mar 1, 2012 11:04 AM

    Hang it up, the ride is over geezer.

  34. jpelle82 says: Mar 1, 2012 11:22 AM

    its a release, then re-sign manuever im sure…he will be in camp

  35. pskotte says: Mar 1, 2012 11:29 AM

    Notice how fast his production dropped once they outlawed the way he delivered cheap shots. If they had done it sooner he would already be retired.

  36. dickroy says: Mar 1, 2012 11:32 AM

    Gonna miss Hines. He is one of the all time great Steelers. I just wish he would retire a Steeler. If he does play for another team I wish him the best, but he just won’t look right in any color other than B&G.

  37. klucky97 says: Mar 1, 2012 11:33 AM

    @ckl everyone says the pats got their championships cuz they cheated so does hines and everyone else they talk to about the subject of what happened ..but I am just telling it like it is he was a warrior on the field like u should be …on that field you have no friends but off the field he did alot of charity work that right there says alot about a person

  38. gojags says: Mar 1, 2012 11:34 AM

    Great all round player. I am sure Keith Rivers wouldn’t mind Ward not playing for the Steelers.

  39. steelers1981 says: Mar 1, 2012 1:09 PM

    Hines Ward blocked many people who saw him coming. The devastating block he layed on Orpheus Roy (300 LBS) when he was playing for the Clowns comes to mind. That might be the best block I ever saw. Guaranteed HOF. One of my favorite Steelers off all time (fan for 40 yrs). Very sorry to see you go but sometimes the NFL (Not For Long) is harsh. Good luck #86

  40. mmmpierogi says: Mar 1, 2012 1:45 PM

    pskotte says: Mar 1, 2012 11:29 AM

    Notice how fast his production dropped once they outlawed the way he delivered cheap shots. If they had done it sooner he would already be retired.

    *************************************************************

    Exactly. His drop in production over the past two years couldn’t have anything to do with the fact that, in the past three years, they’ve added Wallace, Sanders, and Brown to the roster, or the fact that Ward experienced physical decline toward the end of his tenure. Nope … it’s all just because he’s a big, mean, cheap shot artist.

  41. Deb says: Mar 1, 2012 1:46 PM

    The Steelers kept their Dynasty players on the payroll longer than they should have, letting them retire at their own speed, often well past their effectiveness. That loyalty proved costly in the 1980s. And in the free-agency era, it’s a luxury teams can’t afford. When players achieved their freedom, we all knew it would lead to situations like Favre’s in Green Bay and now Ward’s in Pittsburgh. Teams have a finite number of spots and a salary cap. They can’t afford to spend even $530,000 on unnecessary players.

    I love Hines, but that is the business reality. Before he starts testing the market, I wish he’d think about players like Willie Parker and realize he’d be wiser to retire now, with his legacy and his health intact.

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