Originally written on Bleed Black & Gold  |  Last updated 11/15/14

CLEVELAND - DECEMBER 10: Hines Ward #86 and James Farrior #51 of the Pittsburgh Steelers stand on the sideline during the game against the Cleveland Browns on December 10, 2009 at Cleveland Browns Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. Cleveland won the game 13-6. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

When the Steelers released Hines Ward yesterday, I assumed that he wasn’t willing to go low enough to meet what the Steelers could afford to pay him.  My assumption was wrong.  According to the Post-Gazette Ward wasn’t even given the opportunity to take a pay cut:

Ward, who had two years left on his contract at a $4 million annual salary, was never offered a chance to take a pay cut, a source close to Ward told the Post-Gazette. That would indicate the Steelers’ decision was based purely on their assessment of him as a player.

I’m a little surprised, only because in the past few years it seems that the Steelers have stayed SO loyal to our aging team, but at the same time this isn’t new for the Steelers organization.  We have always been pretty good about cutting players when we feel their time is up.  Though I would have liked to see him stay and ProFootballTalk.com paints a picture of affordability had they gone this way:

Ward could have freed up as much as $3.075 million by dropping his salary from $4 million to the veteran minimum (for players with 10 or more years in the league) of $925,000.  Under the minimum salary benefit, the Steelers could have terminated his contract and eventually re-signed him to a one-year, $925,000 contract that would have counted as only $540,000 against the salary cap — nearly $3.5 million less than his number entering the season.

Well, it doesn’t matter now he’s gone, and no matter where he ends up for a year maybe two he will always be a Steeler.

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