Heyward Thinks Thomas Will Be Steelers New Swingman, Doesn’t Rule Out Keisel Returning

What role will new Pittsburgh Steelers defensive lineman Cam Thomas play in 2014? Will veteran defensive end Brett Keisel be re-signed later this summer? It looks like defensive end Cameron Heyward knows the answers to those questions.

On Tuesday, Heyward had a session with the media and according to Scott Brown of ESPN, the fourth-year defensive end said he thinks Thomas will serve as a swing-man on the Steelers defensive line in 2014.

Thomas, who started his career with the San Diego Chargers, was signed as an unrestricted free agent during the offseason after the team lost unrestricted free agent defensive linemen Ziggy Hood and Al Woods.

After the team signed Thomas, I speculated that he would assume the role played last season by Woods, as his play with the Chargers at both nose tackle and defensive end wasn’t overly impressive or consistent.

If indeed Thomas winds up playing a swing role, that means the Steelers are still in need of a starting defensive end to play opposite Heyward. According to Brown, Heyward said on Tuesday that he hasn’t ruled out Keisel returning.

Re-signing Keisel is a move that would certainly make sense at this point and we’ve been speculating that such a transaction might eventually happen after June 1. By then, Keisel will have likely lowered his asking price and the Steelers will also have more available cap space at that time.

Even if the Steelers draft another defensive end in the early rounds next month, there is no way that player will be ready to start for some time. By re-signing Keisel, the Steelers will have a veteran that knows the system that can platoon with Thomas and continue to help mentor the younger defensive linemen on the roster.

As far as the Steelers other depth on their defensive line, Heyward told the media that second-year player Brian Arnfelt has made really good progress and could help this upcoming season at defensive end.