Steelers Ward accepts new contract; deal creates room under salary cap

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Monday, Hines Ward said he wanted to retire with the Steelers, no matter what the price.

Yesterday, he found out the price.

Ward, 33, will sign a contract that will last either four or five years this week, his agent said yesterday.

Agent Eugene Parker acknowledged that the new contract will likely keep Ward with the Steelers the rest of his career. He said that Ward had not signed the deal, and it still was not determined whether it will be four or five years.

Parker also said that the deal was done in part so the Steelers could save salary-cap room this year. Ward was scheduled to earn $5.8 million in salary with a cap number of $8.55 million.

The new contract reduces his salary this season and provides Ward with a signing bonus that will be pro-rated over the five years of the contract, saving the team the much-needed room under the cap. The Steelers could have created as much as $5 million of salary-cap room for 2009.

When he spoke Monday, Ward said he would do whatever it took to stay with the Steelers, comparing his situation to that of Jerome Bettis, who took a cut in his salary to remain with the team in 2004.

"I want to be a Steeler," Ward said after the team's first spring practice. "If it came down to both parties agreeing on a situation, then I'm for it. I don't want to put on another uniform. I'm late in the game now to worry about it.

"You look at all the previous players who went on and played for other places. I learned a lot from Jerome, what he did. I want to go down in Steelers history to be one of the better wideouts to wear the black and gold. If the two parties can come together and decide on something, I'm willing to do that."

Ward needs only 220 yards to become the first Steelers receiver to hit 10,000 in his career. His 800 receptions are most in club history.


Ed Bouchette can be reached at ebouchette@post-gazette.com .


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