The "expectations" around the Steelers organization are WR Hines Ward will likely elect to retire, CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman reported Monday, citing a text message he received from a Steelers player.
Ward, 35, is one of only eight NFL players to catch 1,000 passes, a milestone that he accomplished in Week 17. He is the Steelers' all-time leader in receptions, receiving yardage (12,083) and TD catches (85).
Ward did not have a catch in the Steelers' wild-card loss at Denver on Sunday. His role in the offense waned as the season progressed primarily due to Antonio Brown's emergence.
The way we see it
If Ward retires, he would leave as an all-time Steelers great. Toughness and productivity have defined the Super Bowl XL MVP's game.
Should he return, he would figure to play a complementary role in the Pittsburgh offense in 2012, much like he did for much of this season. Brown and Mike Wallace are set as the starters, with Emmanuel Sanders another promising player to watch. Jerricho Cotchery, who caught the game-tying TD on Sunday, is a free agent.
Ward is under contract for two more seasons and slated to make $4 million in salary in 2012 and '13