PITTSBURGH (93-7 THE FAN) — Steelers’ Insider Ed Bouchette joined the Fan Morning Show Thursday to discuss the Steelers’ decision to cut veteran wide receiver Hines Ward.
The Steelers made the announcement on Wednesday, saying they plan to release Ward “of his contract prior to the start of the 2012 NFL calendar year.”
And news of Ward’s release has created a stir among Steelers Nation.
In a statement, Ward said he did everything in his power to remain a Steeler. Bouchette said Ward told the Steelers he would take a pay cut.
“First of all, last year when they demoted him, he didn’t kick and moan and scream about it, and you know, he told them he’d take a pay cut,” said Bouchette. “They never talked money though and the longer that went on, you obviously saw that their intent was not to accept him at even minimum wage.
“If the coaches don’t believe a player still has it, it’s hard for the front office to force that player on him, even someone with the stature of Hines Ward because you can play that out, what happens if Art Rooney says to Mike Tomlin, ‘we want him here another year, you have to take him.’ Well, that doesn’t mean Mike Tomlin has to play him,” Bouchette added.
Click the link below to listen to the full interview:
Bouchette also touched on where Ward could land next season, even if it’s playing for a rival.
“I think he’d love to play in Baltimore. I don’t think he’s thinking of legacies right now,” he said of Ward. “These guys want to play… once they quit, they’re done.”
Bouchette says he believes Ward will generate interest among some team.
“He turns 36 next week, so teams are going to look at that, but I think there will be some interest for varied reasons,” he said. “Some being that not everybody has a good stock of receivers and they look at this guy as a possession receiver, not a speed guy, obviously. Someone who can get you maybe that 3rd-and-5 on a pass over the middle, and maybe be next to someone who is young and needs to be shown how to act professionally, how to run routes and that kind of thing. The way Hines has done for a lot of young receiver here. But I don’t think he’s a starter anymore, and I don’t know where he’s going to land.”
With Ward not coming back next season, Bouchette talked about how that will impact the Steelers.
“Actually, the perfect spot for Hines Ward was with the Steelers, but the coaching staff didn’t want him, and I’m not sitting here saying they’re wrong either. I just think that Ward could have fit in here next year in a role as three or four,” Bouchette added. “They don’t know if they’re going to get [Jerricho] Cotchery back, first of all, and that would be the first guy I go after right now if I’m the Steelers. Without him, and if no one signs Wallace, you have those three young guys and Emmanuel Sanders’ history of injuries.”
Steelers To Release Hines Ward (2/29/12)