SAN FRANCISCO, CA - DECEMBER 19: Hines Ward #86 of the Pittsburgh Steelers watches the action from the sidelines during the game against the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park on December 19, 2011 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Karl Walter/Getty Images)
Hines Ward, a Steelers receiver for the last 14 years, could be leaning toward retirement, according to a report.
The Pittsburgh Steelers lost the AFC Wild Card game against the Denver Broncos and they may lose Hines Ward heading into the 2012 season. There are reports that Ward is considering retirement which at age 35 shouldn't be a major surprise.
Mike Freeman of CBSSports.com reports that Ward's teammates believe he'll retire.
A Steelers player texted to me the expectations around the team was that Ward would soon announce his retirement. That doesn't mean it's set he will. That means some Steelers players believe it which means it's likely to happen.
Ward is an incredibly accomplished receiver who has spent all 14 years of his career with the Steelers. If this is the final time he laces them up, he goes down as 18th all-time in receiving yards and eighth all-time in receptions.
Ward's production has fallen off in recent weeks and it's clear he's no longer the go-to receiver for the Steelers. The team may not even bring him back in 2012 even if he doesn't retire.
Check out SB Nation's Behind The Steel Curtain to see what Steelers fans say about the possibility of Ward retiring.