If the Steelers have decided to release Hines Ward, it is news to Ward -- and maybe even the Steelers.
The NFL Network's Jason LaCanfora, who also works for NFL.com, wrote that, according to his sources, "Ward won't be back."
A source close to Ward, however, said no one from the Steelers has indicated to him that the team plans to release him. Also, Steelers sources told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that no decision has been made regarding Ward's future with the team.
Ward, who could not be reached for comment, issued a statement on his Facebook page after the NFL report:
"I don't normally like to respond to rumors, but as I've said all along, I want to finish my career with the Pittsburgh Steelers. And as I've already told the organization, I am willing to work with them to restructure my contract to make sure this happens."
LaCanfora reported that even if Ward took the NFL minimum "he still wouldn't be worth retaining, because No. 4 receivers have to play special teams."
He wrote that Ward "has one year left on his deal worth $4 million." Actually, Ward has two years left at $4 million each.
Speaking to the Post-Gazette Feb. 2 in Indianapolis, Ward said he had met separately with coach Mike Tomlin and Steelers president Art Rooney after the season ended.
"I just wanted to let them know I want to be here, I want to play," said Ward. "I have two years on my contact. I know I have to restructure, but, under the circumstances, I think I can still play football."
Ward has said many times that he wants to end his career in Pittsburgh, but he is determined to play somewhere in 2012, even if the Steelers do not want him. Ward, who turns 36 March 8, has played all 14 of his NFL seasons with the Steelers and holds nearly every team receiving record.
Steelers executive Omar Khan took himself out of the running for the general manager's job with the St. Louis Rams.
The Rams received permission from Steelers president Art Rooney II to speak with Khan last week, but no interview took place as Khan decided to remain in Pittsburgh.
Khan, 35, has been an executive with the Steelers and their chief contract negotiator the past 11 years. He was a finalist for the Seattle Seahawks general manager's job two years ago, and reportedly would be paired as a general manager with Bill Cowher if the former Steelers coach returns to coaching.