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

Pittsburgh Steelers Could Be Close To Replacing Brett Keisel

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.

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Tags: Alex Carrington Brett Keisel Pittsburgh Steelers

  • ilamarca

    Sooo why did we let this guy out the door without a contract?

    • Craig

      Good question. He could be shopping around, which is not the Steelers fault. I’m sure they won’t want to overpay this guy, and if he didn’t like the first offer, he could be shopping around to see if he can get more.

  • John Keiser

    Ian Rapoport is hardly a reliable source…but sounds like the Steeler front office wants to shed the “old guys” image…hate to lose Da Beard, but life moves on…

    • Craig

      I HATE having to use Rapoport as a source, trust me.

      • John Keiser

        You’re doing your job and he’s a legitimate source…just not cared for much by Steeler Nation…good story Craig!

  • [email protected]

    Craig, one thing we hear with nauseating frequency is the ‘complexity’ of LeBeau’s defense, particularly it’s effect of making rookies unplayable.
    OK, fair enough. I mean, even TROY couldn’t get on the field his rookie season.
    What I never understand is why these FA types CAN get on the field their first year with the Steelers!!
    If DLBs defense is soooooo unique and complicated, how can a guy from another team (even one playing a 3-4) come in and contribute right away?
    In particular, why do we think Carrington can?
    This could be good fodder for an article for you guys at some point (the complexity piece) – although I suspect it would take like 34 pages long to explain if this urban legend is true, LOL!!!!!

    • Craig

      It would be longer than War and Peace. You thoughts on the matter bring up a very good question. I think the tipping point of a FA whose been in the league for a few years (4+) vs a rookie is that more than likely they have either seen tape of DLB’s defense and/or have some very similar formations/play calls. They’ve been in the league long enough that they aren’t dealing with ‘rookie mistakes’ that happen with any incoming draft group. They are more focused on the defense and less about vastly improving technique, etc. at an NFL level.