Free agency is looming with the draft to follow. Yet the biggest story outside of the South Side has to do with the team’s longest-tenured veteran, Hines Ward.
Ever since his benching in mid 2011, the question has been where will Hines Ward play in 2012?
Fans trying to glimpse insights by reading the tea leaves coming out of the press have to be frustrated. NFL Network of course reported that the decision to cut Ward was already a done deal, a rumor shot down quickly by Ed Bouchette, and then by Kevin Colbert himself.
Writing on PG Plus, Gerry Dulac seemed to offers some clues and, for Ward’s backers, they were none too encouraging.
Dulac confirmed that the decision on Ward would not come down to money, but offered that: Even if Ward volunteers to play for free in 2012, there is no guarantee he will be on the Steelers roster.
Dulac makes of point of emphasizing that his observations about Ward’s skills are diminished are his own opinion, but it is hard to imagine these opinions haven’t been influenced heavily by some Steelers coach with whom he’s had a long conversation in the parking lot to coffee room.
Dulac points out that teams played tight, man-to-man converge on Ward in 2012 simply because they knew he’d be unable to get open. He also makes the point which I noticed, that Ward had a unusually high number of drops and fumbles in 2012.
The tone of Dulac’s article leaves the reader with the feeling that he’s talked with someone, a football person, whose calling for Ward to begin “Life’s Work.”
Veteran reporter Dale Lolley had a slightly different take, one that he shared on his blog “From the NFL Sidelines.” Lolley simply states that Kevin Colbert’s statement that the Steelers are unlikely to resign any of their own free agents prior to the March 13th deadline, “helps make a case for the Steelers to keep Ward.”
I am not sure why that would be the case, beyond the fact that the Steelers would need the extra money freed up by Ward’s release to make any sort of a deal.