Brett Keisel

Steelers Release Brett Keisel

The Steelers announced that they have released defensive end Brett Keisel. The move was widely expected.

We have informed Brett Keisel that we plan to release him today,” Steelers GM Kevin Colbert said in the release. “We have had conversations with Brett over the past couple of weeks during which we communicated our intentions to him. Brett has played a major role in our success during his 13 years in Pittsburgh. We appreciate his efforts and we are grateful for what he helped us accomplish, including two Super Bowl Championships. We will always consider him an all-time Pittsburgh Steeler.”

Keisel played 13 seasons for the Pittsburgh after being selected in the seventh round of the 2002 draft. He saw time in 156 games with 114 starts during the regular season, and he played in 16 games with eight starts during the postseason. His career regular-season totals include 30.0 sacks, 36 pass breakups, seven forced fumbles, seven fumble recoveries and two interceptions, one of which was returned 79 yards for a touchdown. Keisel is just one of 12 players in team history to record at least 30 sacks during the regular season and became a massive fan favorite during his time on the Steelers’ defensive line.

Keisel suffered a triceps injury in late November against the Saints, ending his season prematurely. The 36-year-old (37 in September) was in limbo for much of last offseason. The Steelers showed little to no interest in him for much of the offseason and only gave him a call when Darnell Dockett went down with a season-ending ACL injury.

Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics (subscription required) ranked him as just the 36th-best 3-4 end out of 45 qualifiers in 2013 and he ranked 30th out of 48 eligible 3-4 bookends in 2014.


Extra Points: Winston, Mariota, Keisel, Schaub

Let’s take a look at a few notes from around the league to finish out the night:

  • Les Bowen of the Philadelphia Daily News tweets that he has not heard anyone from a team’s personnel department say that they would draft Jameis Winston over Marcus Mariota.
  • ESPN’s draft guru Todd McShay offers a contrasting viewpoint in his second mock draft, as he projects Winston will be taken first overall by the Buccaneers (Insider subscription required).
  • After Brett Keisel’s season ended with a torn triceps in November, many expected his 13th season with the Steelers to be his last. However, the defensive end wasn’t talking retirement at a charity event on Wednesday. “I’ve been preparing for when that day comes, and by ‘that day’ I mean the end,” Keisel told reporters, including Clifton Brown of “But right now I’m under contract and I’m going to rehab and see (how) things turn out.”
  • Brown (via Twitter) wonders if FSU cornerback P.J. Williams might be of interest to the Ravens. Williams was the Defensive MVP of the 2014 BCS National Championship Game, and would be a solid addition to a secondary in need of an upgrade.
  • Saints linebacker Curtis Lofton says, as players are wont to do, that the team does not need to be active in free agency to improve its defense (even if New Orleans had the cap room to be especially active players). Per Evan Woodbery of the Times-Picayune, Lofton says what the defense really needs is to improve its situational football: “When it comes to situational football, I think of third-and-one, third down, red zone, two-minute — all those things are super-important and lead to wins and losses. If we get better in all those areas, we’ll be pretty good next year.” Lofton said the Saints had not yet approached him about a contract restructure, but New Orleans is expected to convert his $4.5MM roster bonus into a signing bonus in order to drop his cap number from $9.25MM to $6.25MM.
  • Michael Wagaman of reports that Matt Schaub will either have to restructure his current deal with the Raiders or otherwise be released. Schaub has stated that he does not intend to retire, but if he wants one last crack at being a starting quarterback, he may prefer to get out of Oakland, where Derek Carr is seen as the future of the franchise.
  • Kevin Lynch of the San Francisco Chronicle takes a look at the major changes that could be coming for the 49ers, including the likely retirement of stalwart Justin Smith.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

Steelers Notes: Roethlisberger, Defense, FAs

Steelers co-owner and president Art Rooney II met with several Pittsburgh reporters today, addressing a number of topics of interest for the team as the 2015 league year approaches. Via the Twitter accounts of Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, here are a few of the highlights from Rooney’s session:

Steelers Place Brett Keisel On IR

The Steelers have placed Brett Keisel on injured reserve, according to Scott Brown of (via Twitter). To fill Keisel’s spot on the roster, the Steelers have signed fellow defensive end Clifton Geathers.

Keisel suffered a triceps injury during Sunday’s game against the Saints, ending his season prematurely. It’s an unfortunate outcome for Keisel and it could mean that he has played the final game of his career. Before re-signing with the Steelers in August, Keisel strongly considered retirement. In fact, Pittsburgh showed little to no interest in Keisel for much of the offseason and only gave him a call when Darnell Dockett went down with a season-ending ACL injury. Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics (subscription required) ranked him as just the 36th-best 3-4 end out of 45 qualifiers in 2013 and he’s ranked 30th out of 48 eligible 3-4 bookends in 2014.

Geathers, who turns 27 later this month, signed with Washington in March after a 2013 season where he was rarely used as a traditional defensive end for the Eagles. Washington dropped Geathers on November 1st and he worked out for the rival Giants soon after. He did not get a contract offer from Big Blue but he has found an opportunity in Pittsburgh.

Injury Updates: Sunday

Let’s take a look at some injuries that could force clubs to make a change to their rosters as they enter the final quarter of the regular season:

  • Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel suffered a triceps injury during today’s game against the Saints, meaning his season could be in jeopardy, according to Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Twitter link). Keisel, 36, contemplated retirement before re-signing with Pittsburgh earlier this year, so if this injury is serious, it could potentially signal the end of his career.
  • Receiver DeSean Jackson had to leave Washington’s game against the Colts after bruising his right fibula, but X-rays didn’t show any broken bones, per Zac Boyer of the Washington Times. Jackson, who allowed that he was in pain, called himself day-to-day.
  • In the same game, Colts cornerback Vontae Davis was forced to leave after suffering a concussion, writes Mike Wells of Davis will presumably enter the league’s concussion protocol, which immediately leaves his Week 14 status in doubt.
  • Titans receiver Justin Hunter suffered an alarming injury today, as he lacerated his spleen against the Texans, tweets Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean. He will remain in the hospital overnight.
  • Another receiver was sent to the hospital today, as Browns pass-catcher Miles Austin had to leave the field in a stretcher after suffering abdominal pain, per Tony Grossi of (Twitter link).
  • The Cardinals lost three starters during today’s game, as running back Andre Ellington (hip), defensive back Tyrann Mathieu (thumb) and guard Paul Fanaika (ankle) all left Arizona’s contest against the Falcons and were soon declared out for the day, the team announced on Twitter.

AFC North Notes: Bengals, Steelers, Hoyer

The Bengals are 3-0 for the first time since 2006, and with a top flight offense to go along with a strong defense, they are one of the NFL’s best so far this year. The team has outscored their opponents 80-33, and should only improve as they get receiver Marvin Jones back from injury, writes Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun.

Here are some other notes from around the AFC North:

  • Wilson also noted the the return of James Harrison out of retirement reunites him with many of his old Steelers‘ teammates, including Brett Keisel, who was brought back as well. Wilson writes that it was Keisel who texted Harrison to convince him to come back.
  • The Steelers‘ defense is a little long in the tooth at a number of spots, writes Mark Kaboly of However, defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau has been working magic on defense for years, and will now have the challenge of replacing Jarvis Jones, Ike Taylor, and first-round pick Ryan Shazier.
  • Pat McManamon of ESPN opens up a Browns‘ mailbag, and the starting question delves into the type of extension Brian Hoyer could earn if he continues to play this well. McManamon compares Hoyer’s recent success with the contracts received by Andy Dalton, Alex Smith, Carson Palmer, and Matt Cassel over the past few offseasons.
  • Hoyer led not one but two Browns‘ mailbags this week, and Tony Grossi of also considered the contract extension Hoyer is playing for. With Manziel signed for four years, Grossi sees the Browns committing to Hoyer as long as he plays well this season, and making a decision about the future during the offseason.

AFC Links: Keisel, Dolphins, Ravens, Atkins

Brett Keisel is excited to return to the Steelers, and the defensive end isn’t concerned about his role for this upcoming season. Instead, he’s focused on helping the team, particularly the rookies.

To be back and to be able to hope to help lead some of these guys and help these guys turn into pros and accountable pros, I’m excited about it,” Keisel told Alan Robinson of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

“I’ve felt since about March, when I decided I still wanted to play football, that something would happen. I hoped it would be here, and for a long time … nothing happened, nothing happened. It was kind of weird like, ‘What am I going to do now?'”

So, after having started in each of his 110 games since 2006, will the veteran welcome a reduced role?

We really didn’t get into that too much. They just said, ‘We want you back.'”

Let’s check out some more notes from the AFC…

  • As Dolphins running back Knowshon Moreno continues to get healthy, Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald believes the player will climb up the depth chart. That could leave some of his teammates, including Daniel Thomas, on the outside looking in. However, the prospect of being cut is far from the 26-year-old’s mind. I don’t really worry about it,” Thomas said. “I’ll just let whatever happens, happens and just go with it. It’s all I can do.”
  • Considering the injuries in the Ravens secondary, Jeff Zrebiec of The Baltimore Sun says that the team “probably can’t afford to cut any corners” until the starters return to practice.
  • Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins is expected to make his preseason debut on Sunday. After recovering from an ACL injury, some could be worried that the Pro-Bowler has lost some explosiveness. That does not include head coach Marvin Lewis, who told Geoff Hobson of that Geno looks like Geno.”

Steelers Re-Sign Brett Keisel

THURSDAY, 11:46am: According to Brian McIntyre (via Twitter), Keisel’s two-year deal has an overall value of $3MM. That includes a 2014 base salary of $1MM and a signing bonus of $500K.

WEDNESDAY, 10:05am: The Steelers have officially re-signed Keisel to a two-year contract, the team announced today in a press release. To make room on the roster, Pittsburgh has waived defensive tackle Al Lapuaho.

TUESDAY, 5:01pm: After drawing interest from the Cardinals in the wake of Darnell Dockett‘s season-ending ACL injury, veteran defensive lineman Brett Keisel will instead return to Pittsburgh. According to’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter), the Steelers have reached an agreement to re-sign Keisel. Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette tweets that a deal should be done by the end of the week. Bouchette was also the first to report (via Twitter) that the two sides were closing in on a deal.

Keisel, 35, is entering his 13th season in the NFL, all of which have been spent in Pittsburgh. He started 12 games in 2013, missing the final four contests while dealing with plantar fasciitis, and racked up 20 tackles and four sacks. Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics (subscription required) were bearish on Keisel’s work, ranking him as just the 36th-best 3-4 end out of 45 qualifiers. However, the Steelers likely place a high value on Keisel’s experience in defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau’s scheme, as Pittsburgh’s current rotation at end includes rookie Stephon Tuitt, third-year player Cameron Heyward, and free agent addition Cam Thomas.

After Keisel cited proximity to his family as the reason for declining to sign with Arizona, it seemed likely that the Steelers might be the only team the veteran was willing to join. In fact, Darren Urban of wonders (via Twitter) if Keisel’s flirtation with the Cardinals was simply a leverage play in order to pique the Steelers’ interest. However, as of July 28, Pittsburgh general manager Kevin Colbert was still open to a reunion with Keisel, so perhaps the team was waiting for his price to come down.

Dallas Robinson contributed to this post.

No Deal For Brett Keisel, Cardinals

4:12pm: A source tells Somers (Twitter link) that Keisel turned down the Cardinals’ invitation to visit Arizona – and possibly sign with the team – because he didn’t want to leave his family.

3:02pm: In spite of Keisel’s reported visit to Arizona, Ian Rapoport of hears that the Cardinals are “very unlikely” to sign the veteran lineman (Twitter link).

12:41pm: Keisel is flying to Arizona today to take a physical, according to Somers (via Twitter). As expected, it looks like the former Steeler is high on the Cardinals’ list of targets.

8:47am: In the wake of Darnell Dockett‘s season-ending ACL injury, the Cardinals are expected to add a defender to help provide depth on the line, according to Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic, who figures a move will happen soon (Twitter link). As Somers notes in a separate tweet, Frostee Rucker is expected to slide into Dockett’s role and should ensure there isn’t a huge drop-off among the starters, but depth could be an issue for the club.

Several Arizona reporters, including Somers (via Twitter), Mike Jurecki of FOX Sports 910 (via Twitter), and Darren Urban of, have pointed to veteran free agent Brett Keisel as a logical fit for the Cardinals. Keisel, a longtime Steeler, has a history with head coach Bruce Arians and defensive line coach Brentson Buckner, who both previously worked in Pittsburgh.

As our list of current veteran free agents shows, the Cardinals’ options for defensive linemen are limited. Former fourth-rounder Vaughn Martin and ex-Packers Johnny Jolly and Ryan Pickett are among the recognizable names in the bunch, but Keisel seems to be the best fit given Arizona’s needs. It’s not clear, however, what his salary demands are.

If Keisel’s asking price is too high for the Cardinals, the team could simply turn to one of its younger, cheaper, in-house options. However, considering the club is in win-now mode heading into the 2014 season, a veteran signing appears likely.

As for Dockett, since he’s a veteran player, he can be placed on injured reserve immediately without having to pass through waivers, so I’d expect the Cardinals to make that move in the near future.

North Notes: Keisel, Gordon, Franklin, Suh

The Steelers have not ruled out re-signing veteran defensive end Brett Keisel, general manager Kevin Colbert told Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “We haven’t eliminated any players from consideration…because we don’t know what’s going to happen over the preseason, even into the season,” Colbert said. “There have been times when we’ve brought back veteran players due to injury. We won’t eliminate anybody. If we eliminated a player, we always tell a player don’t keep us in your thought process.” A reunion between Keisel, 35, and the Steelers has always seemed likely, even if doesn’t come until the end of training camp.

More from the North divisions:

  • Browns receiver Josh Gordon has hired attorney Maurice Suh to assist him in the appeal of his suspension, reports Adam Schefter of ESPN (via Twitter). Suh, who helped Richard Sherman win his appeal in 2012, will work with Heather McPhee of the NFLPA in an attempt to lessen Gordon’s ban.
  • Though Johnathan Franklin was forced to retire last month due to a neck injury, the 24-year-old would like to find a non-playing role with the Packers, writes Rob Demovsky of
  • For the time being, Craig Robertson is holding on to his starting linebacker spot with the Browns, despite a challenge from rookie Chris Kirksey, Jeff Schudel of the Morning Journal writes. Robertson graded out as the fourth-worst inside linebacker in the league last year, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required).
  • The Lions’ decision to table extension discussions with Ndamukong Suh until the offseason is precarious for both parties, according to Michael Rothstein of