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Steelers Contract Look-Back: Hines Ward 2005 Extension

My how NFL salaries have gone up over the years. Sure, that’s an obvious statement but during this dead time of the season I’m finding myself going back and examining a lot of the lucrative deals that were signed by members of the Pittsburgh Steelers over the course of the last 15 years.

Over the course of the next few weeks, I will likely remind you of a few of those old contracts that were signed and today I will focus in on the four-year extension that former wide receiver Hines Ward signed in September of 2005. If you remember, Ward decided not to report to Steelers training camp that year and the holdout lasted a total of 15 days. Once he finally reported to Latrobe, the two sides resumed contract negotiations and that culminated in a contract with a base value of $27.5 million and a max available value of $30 million.

That new contract gave Ward the ability to earn $18 million during the first three years with $1 million of that tied to incentives.

Being as Ward was originally set to only earn $1,668,750 in 2005 as part of his old contract, he was essentially given the opportunity to earn $28,331,250 in new money as part of his new deal. The Steelers, however, protected themselves somewhat as Ward was only given a $5 million signing bonus as part of his new deal in addition to a first-year base salary in the amount of $665,000. The Steelers also included a $4 million option bonus in 2006 in addition to $1 million roster bonus. In other words, had Ward needed to be cut after the 2005 season, he would have only earned $5,665,000. The Steelers, however, would have been left with $4 million in dead money to account for had that route needed to be taken. Thankfully it wasn’t.

Now, $2.5 million of Ward’s new contract in 2005 was tied to incentives, which I believe at that time were NLTBE (not likely to be earned) and while I seem to remember him earning some of that extra money, I don’t believe he got all of it. He did, however, wind up signing yet another extension prior to the 2009 season.

Below is the basic breakdown of the deal Ward signed in 2005.

YEAR BASE SALARY SIGNING BONUS PRORATED OPTION BONUS PRORATED ROSTER BONUS NLTBE BASE CAP CHARGE
2005 $665,000.00 $1,000,000.00 $0 $0 $333,333.33 $1,665,000.00
2006 $2,750,000.00 $1,000,000.00 $1,000,000.00 $1,000,000.00 $333,333.33 $5,750,000.00
2007 $3,585,000.00 $1,000,000.00 $1,000,000.00 $0 $333,333.33 $5,585,000.00
2008 $4,700,000.00 $1,000,000.00 $1,000,000.00 $0 $750,000.00 $6,700,000.00
2009 $5,800,000.00 $1,000,000.00 $1,000,000.00 $0 $750,000.00 $7,800,000.00

If you have any suggestions for any other past contracts that you would like to see broken down, let me know in the comments below.

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