Retired receiver Ward will counsel Steelers speedster Wallace
By Scott Brown
Published: Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Hines Ward had a message for Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace when the two talked about the latter's long-term future: don't just make it about money.
"I am always going to be his biggest fan, but it is a very special place to play here and I have been blessed to have played all 14 years here, so I just told Mike to keep it in that perspective," said Ward, who officially retired Tuesday.
Wallace is a restricted free agent, and the third-year veteran has an uncertain future with the Steelers. They offered him a one-year, $2.7 million contract — the highest that can be given to a restricted free agent — and they receive a first-round pick if Wallace signs with another team.
Giving up big money and a premium draft pick has prevented teams from bidding on Wallace though he can stay on the free-agent market for another month. Even if the Pro Bowler signs his one-year deal, there are questions about whether the Steelers will have enough salary-cap space to get a long-term deal done before the start of the regular season.
General manager Kevin Colbert said last month that Wallace is very much a part of the Steelers' long-range plans.
"I hope he stays and continues the rich tradition of wideouts here," said Ward, the Steelers' all-time leading receiver. "He is an explosive guy, and the sky is the limit for Mike."
>> Ward said he doesn't know what is next for him, although he shouldn't have any shortage of options when it comes to television. Ward also said coaching could be in his future if he can learn to harness the emotions that served him so well during a 14-year playing career.
"Maybe down the road I might want to get into coaching, even though (Steelers coach Mike Tomlin) doesn't think I will be as great coach because of the passion that I have," Ward said. "I hope that I will always have Pittsburgh to come back to. I'd love to walk back into this building and still feel like I am a part of this organization."
>> Steelers cornerback William Gay, an unrestricted free agent, made his second visit in as many days Tuesday, meeting with the Tennessee Titans in Nashville. The fifth-year veteran visited the Arizona Cardinals on Monday.
Gay told TribLive Radio last week that he hopes to re-sign with the Steelers. The fifth-round pick in 2007 came into his own last season, starting 15 regular-season games and tying for the team lead in interceptions (two) and tying for second in passes defended (13). Gay finished sixth on the Steelers with 56 tackles.
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