WR Ward turns down Steelers' offer
Thursday, July 28, 2005
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Although they have not yet signed Hines Ward to a contract extension, the Steelers at least are trying to fulfill a promise to make their Pro Bowl wide receiver a priority.
The Steelers made Ward an offer that would make him the highest-paid player in their history, a contract that may include their highest signing bonus, according to a source close to the negotiations.
So far, Ward and his agents have turned them down.
The source told the Post-Gazette the offer also would put Ward among a tier of receivers just below several of the highest paid in the league.
The deal would include a signing bonus higher than the $8.1 million quarterback Kordell Stewart received in 1999. Although quarterback Ben Roethlisberger reportedly received a $9 million signing bonus as part of his rookie contract, some analysts peg it closer to $7.8 million in what technically would be a true signing bonus. But even if it were $9 million, the bonus the Steelers have offered Ward is close to it. No other contract details, including length and total, were provided.
Ward and his agents have countered in negotiations that the four-time Pro Bowler should be paid relative to where he ranks among NFL receivers and not based on what the Steelers have paid their players in the past. A number of receivers the past several years have received signing bonuses of more than $10 million. His agents, Eugene Parker and Roosevelt Barnes, have taken a stance that Ward should be paid among the best wide receivers in the game, although they have not asked for him to be the highest paid.
Ward, who has one year left at $1,668,750 on a contract he signed in the summer of 2001, made the past four Pro Bowls and shattered many of the Steelers receiving records during that time. Three times he surpassed the Steelers' previous record of 85 receptions in a season with a high of 112 in 2002. His 505 career receptions are second only to John Stallworth's 537 in club history.
Ward, who lives in Atlanta, is scheduled to make a promotional appearance today in Pittsburgh and also was to talk to some coaches about his situation. Parker has declined to predict whether Ward will report to training camp on time Sunday.
Blah not happy to hear this. Hopefully they will come to an agreement.