PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Steelers aren’t ready to part ways with Hines Ward just yet.
General manager Kevin Colbert said Monday the team has had “internal discussions” on what to do with the franchise’s all-time leading receiver, but no decision has been made.
NFL.com reported last week the Steelers were planning to release the 35-year-old Ward, who took on a diminished role last season behind Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders.
Ward posted on his Facebook page Saturday that he’s willing to restructure his contract in hopes of finishing his career with Pittsburgh. Ward has two years remaining on his current deal at a cost of about $4 million a season.
The 14-year veteran became the eighth player in NFL history to reach 1,000 career receptions last season.
Cornerback Ike Taylor and linebackers Lawrence Timmons and LaMarr Woodley have agreed to restructure their contracts in hopes of getting under the salary cap.
Colbert said the team is in the middle of making free agent evaluations and won’t make any move on Ward until that process is complete.
“That will give us an idea about what else is out there, where we stand with restructuring contracts and what we will have to do as far as possibly terminating people, both immediately and after the fact if we decide we want to add some players (in free agency),” Colbert said.
Ward is coming off a season in which he finished with 46 receptions for 381 yards and two touchdowns, his lowest totals in each category since he was a rookie in 1998. The 2006 Super Bowl MVP — who also won “Dancing With the Stars” last spring — is one of only two receivers in league history to reach 1,000 receptions and win at least two Super Bowls.
Colbert also said Monday injured running back Rashard Mendenhall likely will start the 2012 season on the physically unable to perform list while he continues to rehab the torn ACL in his right knee from the regular-season finale against Cleveland.