It doesn’t appear as though veteran free agent defensive end Brett Keisel has had many suitors so far this offseason and one local beat writer wrote on Wednesday that he thinks the Pittsburgh Steelers have moved on from the bearded one for good.
“I do not think that is their intention,” wrote Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette during his Wednesday online chat, when asked about the possibility of Keisel being re-signed. “If they do bring him back, it is not with the idea of him being a starter, rather a situational player in their sub packages. But they want a player who is healthy enough to rely on and they don’t know that he is that guy.”
The Steelers lost free agent defensive linemen Ziggy Hood and Al Woods early on in the offseason but managed to sign former San Diego Chargers defensive lineman Cam Thomas to help fill the void. As it looks right now, Steve McLendon would be the starting nose tackle and Thomas would likely start at one defensive end spot opposite Cameron Heyward if Keisel is ultimately not re-signed.
The fact that Keisel hasn’t received any attention thus far as an unrestricted free agent isn’t overly surprising as his agent reportedly has already come out and said that his client would rather retire instead of playing for the league minimum.
Back in January, Steelers team president Art Rooney II was noncommittal about Keisel returning for the 2014 season when asked about him during a Q&A conference call with season ticket holders. At that time, Rooney said that Keisel had to first decide if he wanted to play another season and if so, the team would then have to decide whether or not he fit into their plans.
Currently, the Steelers lack experience depth on their defensive line as Nick Williams, Brian Arnfelt and Hebron Fangupo have a combined 22 snaps played between them. Williams is also coming off of a subluxed kneecap injury that required surgery that he suffered late in training camp last year.
There’s a good chance the Steelers will address the defense end position at some point during the upcoming 2014 NFL Draft, but even if that happens, that player would be lucky to see the field during the early part of the 2014 season.
If Keisel is ultimately re-signed, that transaction more than likely wouldn’t take place until after June 1 when more salary cap space becomes available thanks to the early offseason release of linebacker LaMarr Woodley. By then, perhaps Keisel will have reconsidered his asking price in order to play one final season in Pittsburgh.