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Steelers undecided on Ward's future

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By Scott Brown
Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2012
 

Difficult decisions loom, as the Steelers work to get in compliance with the salary cap by March 13.

None have been made regarding perhaps the most difficult of them all, which leaves wide receiver Hines Ward's future with the team in question.

"To this current point, no final decisions have been made," Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said Monday. "We've had several discussions internally."

An NFL Network report surfaced Friday that the Steelers will not bring back Ward, their all-time leading receiver, for a 15th season. Ward wants to retire as a Steeler, and he is willing to restructure a contract that has two years left on it at $4 million per season.

The Steelers have saved around $18 million in salary cap money by restructuring three contracts and making a couple of roster moves. They entered the offseason around $25 million over the cap, a figure that is fluid because teams won't find out until early March what the salary cap's ceiling is for 2012.

Ward has no plans to retire, and his return to the Steelers will be largely dictated by football and not finances.

Ward, who lost his starting job to Antonio Brown last season, turns 36 next month. If the Steelers aren't convinced he can still be a productive player, they are likely to cut ties with one of the most popular players in team history.

"Any player that's been a part of your success, it's very difficult to part ways with," Colbert said, "and the longer a player's been here and the more he's done for the organization, the tougher it is to make those kinds of moves. That's all part of the business."

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