Clayton was more optimistic about Ward than Mendenhall this season. NFL Network reported that the Steelers had decided not to bring back Ward, but Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said Monday that no decision has been made. Ward is scheduled to make $4 million next season.
"The fact that he's willing to restructure his contract does give him a chance to stay," Clayton said. "If he takes it close to the minimum, maybe $1 million or something in that neighborhood, that might be able to keep him there because they're going to have to juggle their offense with Mendenhall's condition."
Mendenhall tore his anterior cruciate ligament in the regular-season finale on Jan. 1. The Steelers indicated that they can't count on Mendenhall to play in 2012.
Clayton mentioned that it's a nine-month recovery process.
"He's not gong to be the same this season," Clayton said. "They're going to have to consider doing some things at running back. They're not panicked about it. But I think they want to run the ball more."