One Steelers Beat Writer Thinks Team Has Moved On From DE Brett Keisel For Good

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.

  • grw1960

    Dulac – his chats are so generic a any one who follows Steelers Depot could answer 99 % of the questions he takes in his chats.

  • Steelers12328882

    I think we’ve moved on too, especially if he doesn’t want to play for “minimum wage”.

  • steeltown

    If they don’t draft DL in the first 5Rds, then I see Keisel returning for one more campaign. C.Thomas, Arnfelt and N.Williams (if healthy) will provide depth. Lets face it, C.Thomas is a new face and N.Williams not only isn’t fully recovered yet but hasn’t taken a snap of meaningful Football.

  • 804Stiller

    Agreed, I enjoy Buchette more.

  • Jacque Strappe

    I think the DL is the most glaring weakness on this football team. I may be in the minority, but the loss of Woods will be the one felt most. I was hugely disappointed when he left. I thought he played well, and had terrific upside. Not sure what they have in mind, but I have serious doubts Thomas will see a majority of snaps unless it’s out of desperation. Hope I’m wrong.

  • Jollyrob68

    Move on, I’d rather see what Arnfelt,Thomas & Williams can do.

  • Biggie

    It is all dependent on what we do in the draft. If we can add someone like Nix, Tuitt, DaQuan Jones, Crichton or Martin who can push early to start or play in rotation then I think we move on. However if we are unable to add a top DL recruit Keisel is still an add late to work in rotation at DE. I think he can still play at a high level and be insurance, but again depends on draft.

  • srdan

    He is not much better

  • srdan

    It’s too early to tell. If hte Dline roster looks the way it does today, he will be back. If we draft someone in the first three rounds, I don’t see him coming back. I also don’t think that there is a 1st year 34 DE starter in the draft. I think they are figuring on Thomas starting. Which I am not exctatic about.

  • There are some players regarding whom I tend to let sentimentality get in the way of cold calculation, and Keisel’s one of them. Just seems like such a great guy, and very much a quintessential Steelers player who was really, really good for a long time. And I do hope there’s room for him in a supporting, mentoring role if he’s willing to take it.

  • JohnB

    You’re welcome for the article. hahaha

  • 804Stiller

    Agreed, second year is supposed to be the biggest leap for those guys. So, it’s time to move on from da beard. If none of those three can be as effective as Keisel at 34, we are really in trouble.

  • treeher

    He comes back, at least in camp with an opportunity to make the team as a role player. He can’t stay healthy for 16 games as a starter, but he can as a fill in. The point about not wanting to play for the minimum… what do you expect the guy to say? Do you want him to negotiate against himself? Assuming he gets no other offers, he will jump at the chance to play one more season, even at veteran’s minimum.

  • Steelers12328882

    If we draft a DE anywhere from the 5th rd up I’d take a guess that he’s not going to be brought back. Unless Thomas, Arnfelt and Williams totally suck AND a draft pick sucks too then Keisel will just get in the way of developing a young players. Also, I’m fine with Keisel not wanting to play for the minimum, but I do have a problem with his agent comparing 1 million to minimum wage, especially in Pittsburgh.

  • treeher

    My guess (maybe my hope?) is that he comes back and can mentor the youngsters, even the 2nd year guys.

  • Johnny Loose

    Keisel and Harrison will both be signed for backup/mentoring roles. Just for one season to give the new/young guys some much needed insight and pass along the Steeler D mentality. If Cam Thomas is our Starter at DE, whats to say he doesn’t fall flat on his face, then what do we have behind him? a rookie mid to late round draft pick? Even if we grabbed a guy like Tuitt, I see us having a long season ahead should we be forced to start a rookie at DE. OLB we are in the exact same boat really. Not saying he won’t, but what if Jarvis cannot make an impact like we thought? or what if he does, but gets injured. Do we throw Chris Carter in there and hope our sack numbers somehow sky-rocket? Or we’ll again be forced to rely on a rookie pass rusher for our production. I’m not saying rookies are not capable by any stretch. And I understand the “next man up” philosophy. But these rookies now are kids. You throw a guy to the wolves and there’s a good chance he gets eaten alive. If we had JH and BK as backups, we would have two guys who have worked on the same side for years with great success. I’m not saying it would be ideal, but I’d be much more comfortable with that than Cam Thomas and Chris Carter, should Worilds miss time. Mark my words, Deebo and Diesel will be on the team this year in backup roles. If not, then the Steelers might kick the tires on either one come mid-season when injuries start to hinder us. Just my thoughts though.

  • Nolrog

    How about just saying “I think I can still contribute and help a team out.” and leave it at that?