- Regarding the latter option, there’s one name on everyone’s mind, and that’s Brett Keisel.
It would seem like the door opens for Kesiel’s return. The question remains, is the team and is Kesiel interested in walking through it?
Will Kesiel Return – Divided Opinion
Prior to the 2014 NFL Draft, Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin were asked about the team’s situation at defensive line. Both men indicated that the team’s work was not complete there.
Pittsburgh Tribune Review reporter Mark Kaboly wasted little time in offering his interpretation of that message:
Sure sounds like the Steelers have something planned at defensive end come after the draft. Don't think it is Keisel.The Steelers 2014 draft only seemed to bear that out. Not only did the team unexpectedly take Notre Dame defensive end Stephon Tuitt in the second round, they also grabbed nose tackle Daniel McCullers in the 6th.
— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly_Trib) May 5, 2014
Yet ESPN’s Scott Brown reported provided Steelers Nation with some interesting insights regarding Brett Kesiel. In speaking with Heath Miller, Brown got the veteran tight end to share this with him:
- “Keisel’s not here right now and he was well into his 30s last year.”
Is There Room for Kesiel, and at What Price?
Steel Curtain Rising has been on the record in support of Kesiel’s return, and remains so, but any objective analysis must concede that the situation is far from clear-cut.
- As mentioned above, the Steelers lost two players from 2013’s defensive line, Al Woods and Ziggy Hood.
Brian Arnfelt, Nick Williams, and Hebron Fangupo who are return from inactive list, practice squad or injured reserve duty in 2013. That brings the Steelers current total (excluding undrafted rookie free agents and futures contract signers) to 8.
Last season the Steelers carried 7 defensive lineman on their roster for the bulk of the season, with Arnfelt getting activated late in the years.
- Adding Kesiel would give them nine.
Nonetheless, the Steelers still appear to be committed to youth on the defense, and that would seem to leave Kesiel as the odd man out, particularly if he is serious in his stated desire not to play for the minimum salary.
Ulitmately the decision will come down to Kesiel’s willingness to play for less, and the calibration of youth and experience that Tomlin, Dick LeBeau and Johnny Mitchell desire.