When veteran Brett Keisel, the big number '99' on his chest and his famous beard, became an unrestricted free agent in March, the Pittsburgh Steelers seemed content to part ways as they moved toward a younger, sleeker defense. News on Tuesday that upon arrival in Arizona to allegedly sign with the Cardinals in what many in the NFL have deemed 'Steelers West' and join fellow ex-Steelers teammate Max Starks, the Steelers contacted Keisel to return to Pittsburgh for what will be his 13th season in the NFL with the Steelers.
Keisel took to Twitter to post a message that said, "I am very excited to finish what I started in 2002 with the Steelers. Time to get to work."
Brett Keisel was a stable force for the Pittsburgh Steelers‘ defense since taking over the right defensive end position in 2006. The Greybull, Wyoming native was drafted by the Steelers in 2002 (seventh round) out of Brigham Young University and started out as many rookies do, on the special teams unit. He began substituting in behind Aaron Smith in 2005.
In a January 2014 interview, Keisel was asked if he’d return to the Steelers for his 13th season. His response: “That’s really up in the air right now. I want to continue to play for as long as I feel that I can, and I feel like I can still play.”
Keisel had been a leader in the Steelers' defense and as training camp and two preseason games have passed, the defense has some question marks heading into their final preseason games and regular season. Cam Heyward moved into the right defensive end position after the absence of Keisel. With the signing of Cam Thomas, a veteran free agent from the San Diego Chargers, the Steelers moved him into the defensive tackle spot. The Steelers then selected Stephon Tuitt in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft. Daniel McCullers has been making his wishes known to remain on the roster along the defensive line, as has Steve McLendon. Rookie Brian Arnfelt and Josh Mauro also factor into the mix. How the final roster shakes out will prove interesting.
Keisel's agent, Eric Metz, is reportedly working financial details of what will most likely be a one-year contract with Keisel.