Larry Foote might not be the only veteran starter the Steelers lose from their defense. Defensive end Brett Keisel could be on his way out too, writes Alan Robinson of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The eight-year starter hasn’t been contacted by the Steelers about returning next season and is preparing to play elsewhere, according agent Eric Metz.
While the unrestricted free agent will be 36 in September, Keisel is coming off an effective season in which he ranked out 13th among all NFL 3-4 defensive ends in Pro Football Focus’ pass rush evaluations. Keisel missed four games late last season with a painful plantar fasciitis condition in his left foot that was worsened by a tear, but he returned to have two sacks in the final two games, plus a critical fumble recovery against the Packers. Some players might retire rather than battle through injury after such a long career, but Keisel has no such plans.
“He’s productive, healthy and has every intention to continue to play football,” said Metz.
Keisel finished 2013 with four sacks (giving him 8.5 over the last two seasons), a forced fumble, two fumble recoveries and 29 tackles. He made $2,825,000 in base salary last season, with a salary cap charge of $4.9MM, but the Steelers — if they have any interest in having him back — probably don’t want to pay much more than the minimum of $955K, plus a small signing bonus, Robinson writes. For what it’s worth, Keisel’s agent says his client wants to finish his career in Pittsburgh.