Potential Re-Signing Of Keisel Will Likely Have To Wait Until June

Unless the Pittsburgh Steelers plan on starting a second-year undrafted player (or one drafted in the seventh round), then they are currently without a starting defensive end opposite Cameron Heyward.

The only free agent defensive end that they have expressed interest in up until this point—Alex Carrington—signed with the St. Louis Rams yesterday, which certainly chips away at the available options at this point.

A week or so back, I wrote that if the Steelers didn’t sign Carrington, then the next best option for 2014 would be to re-sign Brett Keisel, who will be 36 this season and has had a recent history of injuries. That still appears to be the logical alternative.

Keisel was one of three free agents that the Steelers had at the position. In addition to Keisel—a longtime starter—Ziggy Hood and Al Woods also hit the market. Unlike Keisel, they’ve found new homes with the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Tennessee Titans, respectively.

General manager Kevin Colbert spoke recently about some of the team’s move thus far during free agency, including the acquisition of defensive lineman Cam Thomas. Thomas came from the San Diego Chargers and spent most of the season as the starting nose tackle before being benched, after which he also played defensive end.

The assumption was that Thomas was brought in to primarily provide depth at nose tackle, given his size, but according to Colbert, the Steelers looked at him primarily as a defensive end. Still, he is better suited to replace Woods on the bench rather than as a starter. That’s where Keisel comes in.

Assuming that he does rejoin the team, however, chances are it won’t be for a while yet, especially given his supposed preference to retire rather than play for a cap-friendly veteran-minimum contract.

The Steelers have a history of signing players late in the process, and this year should be no different, especially since they have about $8 million in cap space becoming available after June 1 due to the release of LaMarr Woodley.

The Steelers right now only have about $1 million in cap space following the signings of Lance Moore and Arthur Moats, so they don’t have much room to maneuver between now and June without making further moves, such as restructuring Lawrence Timmons’ contract, which they would prefer not to do if it can be avoided.

Therefore, it seems reasonable that if the Steelers do wind up reuniting with Keisel for one more reason, it will in all likelihood come following June 1. That would give the team plenty of time between now and then to take stock of their roster situation following the draft and into the offseason program.

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.
  • JAMESH

    From STEVE in the comments of a prior post – “Keisel didn’t play much last year, so what makes you think they would bring him back again?”

  • steeltown

    He started 12games last season..

    Cam Thomas has never played a snap in our Defense and the young guys may or may not be ready to take on a starting role, Keisel had 4sacks last season, that’s one more than Hood and one less than Heyward, for the time being he may be the best option (when healthy)

  • dkoy85

    I’m not excited about this, but hopefully Arnfelt or Williams can step up and dethrone him at some point during the season. Maybe Wilfork gets released and we go after him post June1? Could come cheap-ish and allow us to develop a rookie at NT.

  • Kenneth Wilt

    If Keisel will be patient, wait till we are financially able to do this move, I have no problem with bringing him back. He needs to understand though, that the draft MAY impact his potential for a job. Be honest with the guy, that is the priority for me.

  • NW86

    Exactly, and I have no doubt that both sides are communicating and being honest with each other and will continue to do so.

  • Steelman72

    How about kicking the tires on Pat Sims? He had a good year in Oakland and I think he could be a 5 technique in a 3-4. I’m really worried about our lack of d-line depth and we have so many holes to fill in this years draft.

  • Douglas Andrews

    Nice option to have if needed after the draft

  • Will Hammer

    Forget diesel .Lets get younger. The diesel was good in his time .His time unfortunately is up.. WE have extra picks- lets get a stud!!!

  • srdan

    He would get signed after the draft. In june when we get Woods money.

  • srdan

    Time to move on. He played a bit last year, so it’s not necessarily that his body is giving out. It’s just when he was on the field he was on skates and on the ground a lot. Unlike 92, I don’t see how Kiesel could fit in to provide quality snaps. He does not help hold the edge any longer.

  • Jollyrob68

    I want Arnfelt to get his shot along with Williams & Cam Thomas.
    They could also sign Terrance Cody let him & Cam Thomas battle for the NT position and move McLendon To end. Cody isn’t going to cost more than minimum for 2 year contract.

  • SteelersDepot

    Cody and/or Thomas play nose tackle? I hope you are not serious.

  • JAMESH

    I agree without reservation.

  • Tom

    I would have preferred to see the Steelers get younger at the position. However, given that Woods was not retained, the seemingly viable Free Agent candidates are now off the market, and that rookies can’t be counted on to contribute in year one……. I guess Keisel is probably the best fit now.