Nov 10, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel (99) looks at the scoreboard during the third quarter of a game against the Buffalo Bills at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh Steelers Should Consider Signing Some Old Friends

Rookie minicamp has concluded and we’ve now seen the new draft picks and undrafted guys wearing black and gold for the first time.  These rookies will help solidify some of the holes on the roster and also add depth to certain positions.  However, there is still room for improvement on this Steelers roster and it could be wise for the front office to go after some former players to help out for the 2014 season.  Pro Football Talk recently came out with 2014 All-Unemployed Team.  On the list there are three former Steeler players that I think would be a nice addition to this team, as either depth and/or to help some rookies get adjusted to life in the NFL .

The one player on offense I still want the Steelers to re-sign is Santonio Holmes. I wrote about this idea before the draft took place, so I won’t go too deep into the Yo Holmes talk but the Steelers number two receiver is still a question mark.  Markus Wheaton and Martavis Bryant appear to be the two favorites for the role.  Bryant, the Steelers fourth round pick, has size and lot of potential, while Wheaton had six receptions in his rookie year.  I still believe Santonio would be a perfect option for the Steelers for one year if he is able to stay healthy.  Does he bring a lot of baggage? Yes he does, I’m aware of this.  But for one year to give him the chance to rejuvenize his career, I think it’s worth the risk.

As for defense, I think the Steelers should consider bringing back two former players.  First off I think taking back Brett Keisel would be a smart move.  He is going to be 35 this season but he is still reliable.  The defensive end position could use some help even if Stephon Tuitt takes over the starting role.  Keisel has started 10 or more games for the Steelers for the past eight seasons.  I like Tuitt a lot but I also don’t know how good he will actually be in his rookie season.  Keisel would be the perfect veteran for Tuitt to learn from and play with, whether it’s Keisel in the backup role or Tuitt.  His presence can only help the defense in my opinion.  As of May 7th it sounded like Keisel still wanted to be in Pittsburgh, so if the Steelers want him, this could be a reality.

Vincent Pugliese-USA TODAY Sports

The second defensive player that could help out the Steelers this year is James Harrison.  Last year he was less than specatular with the Bengals, recording only two sacks and 19 tackles in 15 games.  In March he did say that he wanted to return to the Steelers and apparently the interest was mutual.  That was before the draft, in which the Steelers added Ryan Shazier and Jordan Zumwalt.  The Zumwalt pick has given the Steelers more depth at linebacker and during last weekend’s minicamp he was being used at outside linebacker.  Harrison has not recorded more than ten sacks since 2010 and it’s unclear how much is left in his tank.  With all that being said, if they can get him for cheap to bring him in for training camp, why not?  He might still be an effective third down pass rusher.  Jarvis Jones is slated to be the starter opposite of Jason Worilds.  He only had one sack in his rookie year though, so how reliable will he be in year two.?  Harrison becoming a Steeler again is less likely than Keisel but if an injury happens, he could be a good choice.

What do you think Steelers Nation?  I’m sure some of you still won’t want Santonio Holmes back but how about defensive players?  Are their any other free agents that you think can help the Steelers?

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Tags: Brett Keisel James Harrison Pittsburgh Steelers Santonio Holmes

  • Michael Holder

    I’m all about bring back Santonio Holmes. He was nothing but a big time playmaker for the Steelers and helped nail down our last Superbowl win. His “on-the-field” attitude is something every Steeler WR should have.

  • Michael Holder

    James Harrison is one of my favorite all time Steelers… having said that, I think he is a shell of his former self and his value would be in the leadership (like coach Porter) he could provide the youngers LBs on the team. At this point however, with Jones, Shazier, Zumwalt, Moats, Spence, Williams, etc and the emergence of Worilds… I doubt the Steelers bring back James.

  • Michael Holder

    Steelers should resign Brett Keisel at their earliest opportunity. He is an excellent role model for the younger players to follow… especially players like Stephan Tuitt… and… Brett can still play the game at a high level. Win/win.

  • PJ_CA

    Keisel, DEFINITELY!!!! We need Da Beard back for another go round. Harrison could provide depth and help the kids learn how to play the position, however, not sure how much more effective he’d be than Joey Porter – who is already a defensive assistant coach. Holmes? Meh, he reminds me of Terrell Owens in that if his talent ACTUALLY matched what he thought of himself he’d be in the HoF after his rookie year. Let’s face it, he simply isn’t that good.

  • Mangler

    Definitely sign Keisel; Harrison would also be welcomed back. I think he still has some gas in the tank, both of these guys have great hearts, and work ethics to pass on to the young guys.
    Santonio, locker room cancer, whiner, hurt a lot, I would give Plaxico a shot before wasting any cap space on Holmes. The Steelers could have avoided all this by locking up Cotchery….

  • bk

    Holmes for sure, he is better than any other Steeler receiver but Brown…

  • Craig

    San’smokio? No thanks. Let’s take a look at his last three seasons: 31 games played out of 48 (64%), 94 catches for 1,382. Scored only 1 TD last season (although he did snag 8 TD’s in 2011). He can’t stay healthy. His biggest game came against BUFFALO last season. His stock is heavily on the decline – how is that better than at least Moore?

    • Brendan Driscoll

      Health is clearly an issue but I think you can also point to Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith throwing the ball to him. The Jets offense has been pretty terrible for past few seasons. So add the questionable QB play to his lack of numbers. I just think Santonio has the ability to be a playmaker unlike Lance Moore, who is solid but is just a slot receiver, who possibly benefitted greatly thanks to playing with Drew Brees.

  • Hockeydude99

    Kiesel, Yes. He would be a help to the younger players and also could spot play on the D-line. As for holmes….NO way do we need him. HIs declining stats show that we would be better with the young players we have and let them grow. Harrison would be nice addition to the coaching staff but not as a player.


    Only guy worth bringing back is Harrison since he would be the guy who would most likely contribute due to the lack of experienced depth at outside linebacker. Remember, Deebo did a solid job down the stretch back in 2012 after his back had healed. His best fit is as a 3-4 OLB, and as a cheap situational pass-rushing option, he would be a much better option than Moats, Carter or Zumwalt.

    Holmes would have to take a back seat to all of the young receivers recently acquired as well as Lance Moore, while Keisel’s fate was pretty much sealed with the signing of Thomas, selections of Tuitt and McCullers, and the inking of Mauro & Hemer after the draft. Plus, Arnfelt & Williams appear to be back for another year as well.

  • David

    You can never move forward when you’re always looking in the past.

  • Anthony Hargraves

    I love all of the players mentioned. Debo is one of my all time fav’s but we need to move on. Lets groom the young guys so we can push for the 7th while we still have Ben.

  • bk

    No way they bring back Harrison… imagine the egg on the face of Tomlin if an old guy like him comes in a plays better than last years first rd pick….

    • Craig

      Why would there be egg on Tomlin’s face? Harrison left because neither side could agree to a new contract. That’s on Colbert, not Tomlin. Harrison left before Jones was drafted anyways. It’s not like Tomlin sat there weighing those two as options and decided to toss Harrison.

      Pretty sure Tomlin wouldn’t be adverse to having someone like Deebo back on the squad – if only for depth.

      • bk

        Then why isn’t he back? All Tomlin has to do is say so and he would be in camp. He was finally healty last year, but, pretty much forced out… then they draft Jones who was a huge disappointment..I too thought he would be better, but, he is not close to being quick enough. SO now, this regime will keep plugging away…

        • Craig

          Probably because they have a plan in place. They may bring him back they may not. But dude, it’s not because of ‘pride.’ They couldn’t strike a deal last season. He wasn’t forced out. He could have taken less $$ and Harrison decided differently. It’s a two way street it’s on Harrison as much as it is on Colbert that he didn’t play in a Steelers uniform. If the coaches feel they need the extra depth, they would probably sign him. I wouldn’t think it’s a waste if they did, but can understand if they don’t.

          • SDAZT_STEEL

            It was a lose-lose situation for both Harrison & the Steelers’ FO last fall.

            Pittsburgh was forced to rush Jones’ development after Harrison left (particularly after his strong finish to the 2012 season) and the rookie was automatically in the top 3 on the depth chart at OLB. In turn, Harrison had to sign with a team which ran a defense which was poorly suited for his skill-set.

            I would bring Harrison back as a pass-rushing specialist for depth purposes and as someone to push Jones on the depth chart. Harrison proved at the end of the 2012 season what he could do when he was healthy, and maybe a little competition is exactly what Jones needs to take his game to another level.

        • Nine

          Geez, you folks who want to write off these guys because they weren’t stars as rookies! Man – No sense of reality! Give Jones time, he will be fine. Don’t believe me? Look at Heyward when he got drafted – heard the same thing about him. Nobody’s talking about HIM being a bust anymore.

          • scott sinclair

            And how did Ziggy Hood do?

  • Jim

    Keisel and Harrison would provide the veteran leadership in the locker room that seemed to have been missing last year. Signing one or both to a 1 year contract would allow the rookies and 2nd year players to become more acclimated to the Steeler defensive system. No way should they bring back Holmes. He has had injury problems when with the Jets and has a lot of baggage.


      With all of the DL help, particularly 5-tech, acquired over the last year, it looks like the Steelers want to move on from Keisel. Deebo’s help is desperately needed since the team’s 3-deep chart at OLB is Worilds, J. Jones and A. Moats (who could be asked to help inside as well).

  • craig

    Should maybe look to FA after June 1st for a more viable replacement for Ike Taylor?