Steelers Sign Veteran To Shore Up Defensive Line For The Long Term

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Steelers Sign Veteran To Shore Up Defensive Line For The Long Term
(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

The Pittsburgh Steelers reuped with another veteran yesterday, signing Defensive End Brett Keisel to a five-year deal. The Deal will keep Keisel under contract with the Steelers through the 2013 season.

The Keisel signing comes just before the teams self imposed deadline of the beginning of the regular season for contract negotiations. Brett has gotten use to waiting to the last minute after being drafted with the 242nd pick of the draft.

Keisel was drafted by the Steelers in the seventh round of the 2002 draft. He made the team that season as a special teams guy, and eventually made a name for himself because of the athleticism he showed throwing around his 285-pound frame.

The first investment paid off better than anyone ever expected for a seventh round choice. If the most recent investment brings in the same dividends, the Steelers prudence will once again bring them a great return in the long term.

After coming on the scene in 2002, a shoulder injury sidelined him for the entire 2003 season, but he instantly made his presence known upon his return, giving special teams coordinators nightmares with his ability to break the wedge on kickoff coverage.

Keisel took over the starting Right Defensive End position in 2006 after the departure of veteran Kimo von Oelhoffen to the Jets. He has filled his role quite well since.

Keisel adds a dimension to the defense that his predecessor was unable to. Not only does he stuff the run and get to the Quarterback on occasion, but he also has the athletic ability to drop back into pass coverage.

While Keisel has never been one to rack up big numbers, he brings an intangible to the field that adds to his worth. His disruptive, versatile style of play forces opposing offenses to account for him on passing downs as well as running the ball.

“I am extremely happy for a lot of reasons,” said Keisel. “One I have the opportunity to play my entire career with one team. Two, this team, I can’t say enough about how I feel about it. I genuinely love and appreciate the players I play with and have gotten a great relationship with the players too. To be able to stay here and be a part of hopefully more Super Bowls was a dream of mine and it’s surreal that it’s going to happen.”

The signing comes as a surprise to some after the team drafted Ziggy Hood with their first round pick this year, but with the advancing age of All-Pro Aaron Smith on the other side of the Defensive Line, the Steelers have set themselves up to bring Hood along without the pressure of having to start right away. Hood will have a definite role this season, but the security of having Keisel signed gives them added confidence in the case that either veteran goes down to injury.

Smith will most likely play one or two more seasons. While their will be large shoes to fill for Hood in this case, having Keisel signed gives the franchise security for the future at the position while keeping another character player in the locker room during the prime of his career. 

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