The Pittsburgh Steelers today answered what has perhaps the biggest question of the 2014 off season “What would the Steelers do about Brett Keisel?” by resigning the veteran defensive end to a one-year deal.
Entering free agency, Kesiel made twin vows – One that his playing days were not over, and two that he didn’t see himself making the minimum salary.
- The free agency period started and the Steelers almost immediately lost Ziggy Hood and Al Woods, their numbers 3 and 4 defensive ends.
While the Steelers did add Cam Thomas, Kevin Colbert immediately pronounced him to be a back up. And still, Kesiel got no offers. The Steelers further muddied the situation by drafting Notre Dame’s Stephon Tuitt in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft.
- Speculation mounted around to Kesiel’s fate.
Jim Wexell predicted Keisel would get lost in the numbers game, while Scott Brown revealed that Heath Miller told him “Keisel’s not here yet” and Dale Lolley informed Steelers Nation that the Steelers never cleaned out 99’s locker.
- Yet, during OTA’s Cameron Heyward moved to left defensive end, and remained their through out training camp.
Perhaps it took Bruce Arian’s attempt to entice Keisel to come to Pittsburgh West, perhaps it was their plan along, but the Steelers committed to bringing back Keisel for one final year.
- In the final analysis, this is a smart football move.
Brett Kesiel’s best days are behind him, but he clearly showed last season that he has something left to contribute on the field, and the leadership that Kesiel will bring off the field remains priceless.
Keisel’s Return Creates Numbers Game on the Defensive Line
While no set role has been announced, Mike Tomlin did commit to continuing to rotate his defensive ends.
The safe money says that Kesiel will remain the nominal starter, but quickly yield to the younger players behind him and if that happens, he’ll be playing a role similar to the one that Jerome Bettis played in the 2005 season that culminated in Super Bowl XL.
- And one of those younger players just found his claim on a roster spot a lot more complicated.
Two Steelers rookies, 6th round pick Daniel McCullers and undrafted rookie free agent Josh Mauro, are hoping to make the team, in addition to 2013 7th round pick Nick Williams and practice squad stand out Brian Arnfelt.
Prior to the news of Keisel’s resigning, veteran journalist Dale Lolley predicted that the Steelers would only keep 6 lineman, and that Williams and Arnfelt would be the odd men out. Now it looks like someone else will join them.