I didn’t like what I heard coming out of the Pittsburgh Steelers camp today regarding longtime fan favorite and receiver extraordinaire Hines Ward. The team cut ties with Ward – an action that sent shivers up my spine, understanding that this action could be a precursor to what we might be seeing in Green Bay in the coming weeks.
Donald Driver, another longtime fan favorite here in Wisconsin, did what Ward did a couple weeks ago in asking the Packers for a shot at competing for a roster spot by offering to take a cut in pay. It didn’t work out so well for Ward and unless there is a turn in the need to follow the business model, it won’t work so well for Driver.
It comes down not only to dollars and cents, but also to roster spots and who should ultimately have them. Driver and Ward are both veterans with well more than a dozen years of service to their team, but they both are also being pushed by younger talent.
Like the Steelers, the Packers would be foolish to deny the talents of their younger up and coming players. For the Packers, the emergence of Tori Gurley not only as a receiver, but as a special teams player, has the team facing a decision on his future. Do they risk losing him to another team or do they finally promote him to the 53-man roster? The answer is pretty simple. In addition, do the Packers allow Driver to take valuable time from players like James Jones and Randall Cobb. Both are talents who, if Driver stays around, will most likely be highly underutilized.
So, though I love Donald Driver, I fear his time with the Packers is fast coming to an end. He has said that he wants to play until he’s 40. That’s three years. His time with the Packers could simply be one more year … but after what’s happened to Hines Ward, Driver’s time is most likely done.
We appreciate everything he’s done for the franchise and the state of Wisconsin, but the Packers are an organization built on one premise and that’s to win championships. They can’t give themselves the best opportunity to do that by hanging on to Driver.
The release of Hines Ward is the writing on the wall.