NFL Rumors: 5 Teams That Could Use Pittsburgh Steelers Legend Hines Ward

Peter Emerick@@peteremerickSenior Writer IIFebruary 11, 2012

NFL Rumors: 5 Teams That Could Use Pittsburgh Steelers Legend Hines Ward

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    The NFL Network is reporting that the Pittsburgh Steelers have decided to part ways with Pro Bowl receiver Hines Ward.

    It's a move that not only makes financial sense for the Steelers, who can save $4 million over the next two years by letting Ward go, but it also makes logical sense for the Steelers, who have some legitimate talent at the wide receiver position in Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown.

    Ward's production significantly dropped off this past season, grabbing a measly 46 receptions for 381 yards and two touchdowns, but that doesn't mean that the NFL veteran doesn't still have some gas left in the tank.

    If the Steelers do indeed drop Hines Ward and Ward doesn't retire, there are undoubtedly teams who could benefit from having Ward's veteran experience on their roster.

    Ahead are five teams that could benefit from grabbing Hines Ward in free agency if he indeed hits the market.

Cincinnati Bengals

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    The Cincinnati Bengals shocked the football world this year by making the playoffs. No one thought the Bengals would be as good as they were, and that was in large part due to the success of their receiving corp that featured Jerome Simpson, A.J. Green and Jermaine Gresham.

    Unfortunately for the Bengals, they will most likely be without one-third of that wide receiver trio for at least the next year, with Jerome Simpson recently pleading not guilty to multiple drug trafficking charges.

    The Bengals would be wise to try and add veteran leadership at the wide receiver position to help out Andy Dalton, who will be trying not to suffer from a sophomore slump that many second-year quarterbacks have.

    The Bengals landing Ward is a major long shot, seeing that they play in the same AFC North as the Pittsburgh Steelers do, but there's no doubting that the Bengals could definitely use a player like Ward in the upcoming 2012 NFL season. 

Indianapolis Colts

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    The Indianapolis Colts are considering changing the foundation of their franchise in a major way by even entertaining the idea of cutting elite quarterback Peyton Manning. While no one—besides Jim Irsay—knows which direction the Colts will take for their future, there's no doubting that they could benefit by bolstering their wide receiving corps.

    Let's say the Colts shock the world and let Peyton Manning go, deciding to build their franchise on NFL prospect Andrew Luck. If they do that, the next best thing they can do for their future is to add veteran leadership around Luck to make his transition into the ranks of the NFL that much easier.

    The Colts aren't ridiculously deep at the wide receiver position, with names like Pierre Garcon, Reggie Wayne and Austin Collie, whose future in the NFL after multiple concussions is seriously in doubt. The point is that the Colts aren't setting the NFL on fire with the wide receivers they have, especially when it comes to having veteran leadership at that position.

    If the Colts let Manning go and sign Luck, they would be foolish to not make an attempt at signing a veteran receiver like Ward, who could help make a rookie quarterback's transition that much easier. 

Chicago Bears

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    The Chicago Bears need some serious help at the wide receiver position, and there's no doubt that Hines Ward could be just that. The Bears have one of the weakest wide receiving corps in the NFL, with their second-leading receiver actually being their running back, Matt Forte, who's a free agent this offseason.

    If the Bears want to be a legitimate contender in the NFC, there is no doubt that they need to give quarterback Jay Cutler some serious help. Hines Ward's trademark toughness and physicality would fit perfectly in the windy city of Chicago, and even at the age of 36, Ward could step right in and make a bad wide receiving corps that much better.

    The Bears are built on their running game, much like the Pittsburgh Steelers were for a majority of Ward's career, and that's the kind of offense that Ward would fit immediately into. Ward would not only boost the Bears talent at the receiver position, he would also improve the Bears' run-blocking ability at the receiver position, just like he did in Pittsburgh.

    Hines Ward wearing a No. 86 Bears jersey in 2012 is a realistic possibility, just because his personality and style of game would fit so perfectly in Chicago.

Philadelphia Eagles

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    There's a decent amount of uncertainty surrounding the future of the Philadelphia Eagles, with DeSean Jackson hitting the free-agent market this upcoming offseason. Whether the Eagles bring back Jackson or not, the one thing that they don't have on their roster is a legitimate and tough possession receiver—and that's exactly what Hines Ward is.

    The Eagles struggled last year because they didn't have a physical receiver that was willing to put his body on the line, catching passes across the middle of the field. Sure, the Eagles are one of the most dangerous teams when it comes to throwing down the field, with guys like DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, but they'll never reach that "next level" if they don't have a receiver who can own the middle of the field.

    Signing Hines Ward wouldn't be a long-term fix for the Philadelphia Eagles, but it would buy them a year or two until they can find someone like Ward, who can add a sense of physicality to their wide receiver corp.

    Hines Ward would also add a sense of leadership and maturity both on and off the football field to the Philadelphia Eagles that they desperately need.  

Denver Broncos

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    Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos shocked the world when they sent Hines Ward and the Pittsburgh Steelers home early in the NFL playoffs this year. In the next round, though, the Broncos dropped a dud against the New England Patriots, and while Tebow's play didn't help the Broncos, neither did the handful of dropped passes by the Broncos receivers.

    The development of Tim Tebow as a legitimate quarterback in the NFL can be seriously helped by adding a guy like Hines Ward to a young Broncos receiving corps. The Broncos, much like the Pittsburgh Steelers, are built around the running game, and that's the kind of game that Ward is used to playing.

    In addition to providing Tebow with some serious help at the receiver position, Ward would also help a young Broncos team that struggled to block for their running game this year at times. Ward would also bring a level of toughness that the Broncos, aside from Tim Tebow, lacked last year.

    The Broncos would be foolish to not go after a veteran receiver like Ward this offseason, as it would benefit their team in a lot of ways.