NFL Free Agency starts next Tuesday. Actually, agents can officially begin contacting teams this weekend and unofficial talks have been going on for, well, weeks.
Teams however are free to talk with or sign their own players, as the Steelers have done with Jason Worilds, Troy Polamalu, Heath Miller, and Will Allen. But there’s one person’s whose phone hasn’t rung:
Brett Kesiel has said that he wants to finish his career in Pittsburgh.
But he’s also made clear that he believes he has something to contribute, and that he will play elsewhere if that is what is necessary. While the Steelers have generally tried to make it possible for long-tenured veterans to retire in Pittsburgh, more than a few veterans have played a year or two elsewhere before hanging it up.
- Every era has seen its share of stories.
Steelers Nation still loses sleep over Franco Harris in Seattle. Craig Wolfey joined the Steelers in 1980 but departed as a Plan B free agent in 1990. Tunch Ilkin helped tutor Leon Searcy before departing to Green Bay. John Jackson started for 9 years before finishing in San Diego and Cincinnati. Alan Faneca and Joey Porter of course went to in New York and Miami before finishing in Pittsburgh West aka Arizona.
Steelers to Make Move on DL, But Who, First?
There’s no question that the Steelers are going to make some move on defensive line in free agency. Its not a case of wanting to, its needing to. In addition to Keisel, Al Woods and Ziggy Hood are free agents. Hood is likely gone, according to press reports. That leaves Woods and Keisel.
- Of the two, Woods will likely be the Steelers top priority, simply because he is the younger of the two and because he’s got position flexibility.
Just because the Steelers haven’t called Keisel, doesn’t mean they’ve closed the door to bringing him back. It appears the Steelers are going to allow Keisel to test the free agent waters and then make a move.
- Before they can make a move for Kesiel or Woods, the Steelers need to free more cap space.
They can do so by extending Ben Roethlisberger’s contract and/or restructuring it. They could also restructure Antonio Brown’s. And of course there is the possibility that LaMarr Woodley and/or Ike Taylor could be released, or in Taylor’s case restructured.
The Steelers need to bring Keisel back if they can. But they should move quickly. Keisel isn’t going to be a top free agent target, but there are a lot of teams with a lot of excess salary cap money to spend who might be willing to throw it at an aging yet still productive 3-4 defensive end.