According to NFL Network insider Jason La Canfora, the Steelers do not want Hines Ward to return for the 2012 season. We'll see if either party confirms or denies this. This may come as a shock to some, but many users here on BTSC have stated that they wanted the Steelers to cut Ward to make room for younger receivers who could contribute on special teams or another veteran presence. If this report is true, we may see the Steelers signing unrestricted free agent Jerricho Cotchery. If we remember, Cotchery started to play well down the stretch once he healed up from his injury. He even made a pretty amazing touchdown catch during the wild card game in the playoffs where we saw our Steelers fall 29-23 against the Tebow-led Broncos.
I for one am not really surprised. I feel like Hines still has some gas left in the tank, but perhaps Bruce Arians preferred the speedier options in Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders (we all know Arians likes the deep ball). Hines was still a big part of the running game, so we'll see if the other receivers can step it up and fill in the shoes of one the, if not the best blocking receivers this game has seen.
In his 14 year NFL career, Hines has broken many Steelers receiving records. He has amassed 1000 receptions, 12,083 receiving yards, and 85 receiving touchdowns. If this report is true, I hope Hines decides to hang up the cleats and retires. I know he has said he is willing to play for another team if need be, but that would be heartbreaking as a Steelers fan to watch.