Wide receiver Hines Ward has been with the Pittsburgh Steelers since he was drafted by the team in the third round of the 1998 NFL draft. Ward has played his last season with the Steelers however, as the team plans to part ways with him this offseason according to a report by Jason La Canfora of NFL Network.
As the Steelers work to restructure contracts and manuever below the salary cap, the circumstances are dictating the twilight of Ward's 14-year career. On the books, he has one year and $4 million left on his current contract. On the field, Ward also took a backseat to youngsters Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown, posting his lowest receiving totals since his rookie season in 1998.
As La Canfora notes, Ward's role in the Steelers offense has diminished the past few seasons with the emergence of guys like Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown, and Emmanuel Sanders. Over the past two seasons with the Steelers, Ward has combined for just 105 receptions for 1,136 yards and 7 touchdowns. Ward was known for his physical play at a position that's often known for being finesse, and was the embodiment of what the Steelers were known as on the field; tough.
Ward will try to continue his NFL career however if the Steelers decide to release him rather than just reduce his $4 million salary. "It would be weird (joining another team), not how I want it to happen," Ward told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette back in January. "But I do want to play. I still think I can play. I'm not even thinking like that -- what if. If that scenario happens, I'll be devastated, but I do want to play football."
For more on Hines Ward and the Pittsburgh Steelers, visit SB Nation's Steelers blog Behind The Steel Curtain.