This can’t be much of a surprise, but according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Alan Robinson, defensive end Brett Keisel has not heard from the Pittsburgh Steelers as of yet regarding his future with the team, his agent has said.
As agents do, Eric Metz talked his client up some, saying that Keisel is “productive, healthy, and has every intention to continue to play football”, clearly indicating that the veteran, who will turn 36 in September, intends to play elsewhere this season if necessary.
Metz also expressed Keisel’s interest in staying with the team, however, saying that his client has always desired to finish his career as a Steeler, which is what Troy Polamalu and Heath Miller now seem set to do.
Despite a general quality level of play while on the field, Keisel has had trouble staying healthy in recent years, missing four games just this past season due to injury, and most of a fifth game. It’s quite apparent that he is not the future of the Steelers.
The question to be answered, however, is whether he can still contribute in the present, or if he’s now simply in the past. Just because the Steelers have not shown early interest doesn’t mean he can’t be a late signing in free agency.
Should that occur, however, I would expect it would be as more of a role player, rather than as a starter, and would probably be a one-year contract for close to the veteran minimum.
Keisel doesn’t stand to have a huge market waiting for him when he hits free agency in a little under a week from where we now stand. While he has one Pro Bowl to his name, he was never a star player, even among 3-4 defensive ends, and has never played outside of the Steelers in his professional career. Don’t expect him to draw the same attention that a John Abraham received last offseason from teams.
One would have to assume that any team interested in Keisel next season will probably not be looking at him as a starter, given his age and recent injury history, despite the fact that he showed he was able to rebound at the end of last season. He ended up recording two sacks and forcing a fumble, while recovering another, in the last two regular season games after returning from injury.
In the meantime, given the lack of communication between Keisel and the Steelers organization, expect that the front office is talking with either Ziggy Hood or Al Woods, or quite possibly both, about coming back next season.
Hood, a former first-round pick of the team, is still young despite having significant starting experience already. Woods is more than capable of playing both end and nose tackle. The position is now a priority given that three of their top four defensive ends are soon to hit free agency. Beyond Cameron Heyward are just Brian Arnfelt and Nick Williams.