Longtime Steeler legend and wide receiver Hines Ward is going to be released, according to Steelers.com.
Ward, a 14-year veteran, is 35-years old. He probably has one or two more years left in the tank, but if I were Hines, I would retire to preserve a legacy.
The Steelers don’t have much cap room and need to resign speedy wideout Mike Wallace. Without Wallace, opponents will easily outplay the Steelers’ offense. Especially now with the rise of the aerial attack, the Steelers minus Wallace will not be effective.
The releasing of Ward signals a new chapter for the Steelers, but Ward is entering uncertainty for himself. A few teams would benefit from having Ward on their roster, however Ward has lost his role of being a dominant game changer.
I would watch out for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a sleeper pick. Giants WR Mario Manningham is likely headed to Tampa, meanwhile Buccaneer WR’s Mike Williams and Arrelious Benn are just starting settle into the NFL. If the Buccaneers can land Ward for a year or two, quarterback Josh Freeman’s play will be elevated to a new level.
Ward’s leadership to the Buccaneers’ young offense will completely revamp the way they play football. Benn is 23, Williams and Freeman are 24, and powerful running back LeGarrette Blount is 25. The youthfulness of the Bucs’ offense is extremely evident.
The other big question for Ward is will he be immortalized in Canton, Ohio. He has Hall of Fame-esque numbers—1000 receptions, over 12000 yards, and 85 touchdowns—but getting selected into the HoF is no easy feat. Cris Carter, one of the games best wideouts ever to play the game, got rejected from Canton this year.
I think Ward will eventually find himself in the Hall of Fame, but it won’t happen anytime soon. If Ward gets the nod, it should be at least in twenty years. Until then, Ward will be milking out all the gas in his tank until there is no more.