Report: Steelers won’t bring back Hines Ward in 2012

Pittsburgh Steelers Hines Ward reaches the 12.000 yards receiving milestone during the 35-7 Steeler win over the Cincinnati Bengals at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on December 4, 2011. Pittsburgh Steelers Hines Ward is the first Pittsburgh Steeler to reach that mark and the 19th overall in NFL history. UPI/Archie Carpenter

Jason La Canfora of the NFL Network is reporting that the Steelers will not bring back receiver Hines Ward for the 2012 season.

“He has one year left on his deal worth $4 million,” said La Canfora. “According to my sources, he won’t be back there. So that’s $4 million off the books.”

Kind of cold there, huh, Jason? The man has given a lot to that franchise so I’m sure true Pittsburgh fans aren’t looking at him as just “$4 million off the books.”

Ward, 35, has won two Super Bowls as a member of the Steelers and three Pittsburgh MVP awards (2002, 2003, 2005). He’s also appeared in four Pro Bowls (2001, 2002, 2003, 2004) and was the Super Bowl XL MVP.

The former Georgia Bulldog has totaled exactly 1,000 receptions for 12,083 yards and 85 touchdowns over his dazzling career after being selected in the third round of the 2008 NFL Draft. He’s only played for one team since ’98.

Assuming he doesn’t retire, Ward may get looks as a No. 3 on a receiver-needy team. But considering he doesn’t play special teams, he isn’t likely to return to Pittsburgh – even on a restructured deal. It would be weird to see Ward in anything but black and yellow but stranger things have happened.

After all, Jerry Rice was once a Seattle Seahawk.

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