The decision was made because Ward's numbers were down last season (he only had 381 receiving yards in 2011).
As the Steelers move on they will hope that their veteran-laden roster will make up for the sentiment that comes with losing Ward. The receiving corps will still produce next season as the Steelers have faith in their group of young wideouts.
Ward was a tough slot receiver and an exceptional blocker. The Steelers can use some of their later draft picks to get someone to fill that role or they can replace Ward with a completely different kind of receiver.
There are plenty of intriguing receivers in this year's draft. Here are the ones capable of replacing Ward.