Pittsburgh Steelers Could Be Close To Replacing Brett Keisel


Sep 15, 2013; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Carolina Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams (34) is tackled by Buffalo Bills defensive end Alex Carrington (92) during the second half at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Buffalo beat Carolina 27-26. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Da time for ‘Da Beard’ could be very close of being over in Pittsburgh.

The Pittsburgh Steelers appear to be in full swing in making improvements in their defense before entering the draft.  Or, at the very least, they are getting the average age below that of qualifying for AARP.  The Steelers have released the likes of senior citizens Ryan Clark and Larry Foote and acquired younger talent in signing Mike Mitchell and Cam Thomas.  Another mainstay for the Steelers may be on his way out if things continue to go well with another free agent target – Alex Carrington.

Sources, such as Ian Rapoport, on Twitter are stating that former Buffalo Bills DE Alex Carrington had a very good visit with the Steelers and passed a physical while meeting with the team.  Carrington left Pittsburgh without signing anything, but Rapoport also says that his source tells him the two sides will continue to talk.  Carrington finished up his rookie contract in 2013 – making a base salary of only $630,000.  The former 3rd round pick played only three games last season and was shelved for a torn left quad for the rest of the season.  Prior to that, Carrington was progressing nicely as a young defensive end.

At 6-5 and 300 lbs., Carrington would surely be Brett Keisel’s replacement.  Carrington is nine years younger than Keisel and has a long football life ahead of him as long as he can stay healthy.  He’s a bull rusher and can get in the way to disrupt a play from developing.  He rarely gets pushed backwards and that would certainly help the Steelers in improving their run defense.  He has a long reach like Keisel, which could help in swatting down pass attempts.

Dec 29, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel (99) reacts as he takes the field against the Cleveland Browns during the first quarter at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

As much as I absolutely love The Beard, this is a really good move by the Steelers.  Trusting the team doctors’ assessments, Carrington appears to be ready to play football again and should be able to contribute immediately on defense.  Carrington could be signed to a long term contract around four years, and I could see him being very affordable taking into account his numbers and his injury.  Carrington’s arrival, if it happens, may not necessarily mean that Brett Keisel is forever done in the ‘Burgh.  But, I would be hard pressed to be convinced that he would be anywhere near contention for starting.  Keisel, if he would accept a huge pay cut could stay as added depth.  The Steelers did lose vets Al Woods and Ziggy Hood to other teams, so they are rather thin at that position at the moment – even after signing Cam Thomas.  The big question mark – would Keisel be willing to take a pay cut?  According to Ed B of the PPG, Keisel’s agent, Eric Metz says that his client “would retire before taking a job that pays minimum wage.”  Phew well at least we know that The Beard won’t be flipping burgers at Wendy’s any time soon.

Ok, that’s a bit of hyperbole – I’m sure his agent meant Keisel would rather retire than take the league minimum.  There is a way around the league minimum by signing him to a one year contract worth almost $1 million and then give him a hefty signing bonus. Do the Steelers have the money in cap space to do something like that?  Would they be willing to do so?  Time will tell, but in the meantime, the bullseye appears squarely on Carrington while Keisel continues to wait in the wings.