Dec 29, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel (99) pumps the crowd up against the Cleveland Browns in the second half at Heinz Field. The Steelers won the game, 20-7. Mandatory Credit: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

Brett Keisel Is Priority Over Pouncey For Pittsburgh Steelers

It’s Christmas in July (or June) for the Pittsburgh Steelers.  LaMarr Woodley is officially gone and off the books for the Steelers, and that means they have a heap of money in the form of $8 million sitting in the piggy bank on Kevin Colbert’s desk.  Due to the Rule of 51, the team really only has $7.7-7.8 million.  As has been discussed before, after the rest of the rookies are signed, the Steelers will have $1.5 to $2 million left to play with (at least according to spotrac).

That amount of money would be perfect for a certain someone.  And no, it’s not Big Ben or Cortez Allen and certainly not Maurkice Pouncey.

Those are the top three players that have been tossed around as those needing extensions before the start of this season.  Well I can tell you that $1.5 million (or even $2 mil) won’t be enough, even from a signing bonus standpoint, to rework a deal in the form of contract extensions with those three vets.  The old coot, Ed B from the PPG, talked about Pouncey getting inked a new deal because the Steelers will have close to $6 million in free money after signing the rookies.  I’m not sure where he got his math on this, but according to spotrac (a very reliable contract source) and the estimates that he rookies will be signed for, the Steelers will only have under $2 million left.

Sep 8, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Bradley (middle) accompanies center Maurkice Pouncey (53) off the field after Pouncey suffered an injury against the Tennessee Titans during the first quarter at Heinz Field. It was revealed after the game that Pouncey suffered a season ending knee injury. The Tennessee Titans won 16-9. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Even if the Steelers have $6 million, Pouncey is not the deserved party for that money.  First and foremost is Brett Keisel.  The vet wants to come back, and I doubt that he will play hard ball with negotiations and ask for anything above the league min for vets with his experience – $1 million.  With Ed’s funny money, the Steelers would have $5 million.  In my opinion, all of that should go to signing Big Ben to a new deal, and Pouncey should be left to fend for a big contract with his performance this season after coming off a major ACL injury.

Pouncey has a history of injuries, and while the knee is not really his own undoing, the susceptibility to injury could mean that knee gets dinged up on a regular basis.  A three time Pro Bowler and “Top Center” will get top dollar – a big risk if you ask me for someone who has yet to play a snap at full speed since tearing up his knee.  The Steelers have employed a sundry of offensive linemen this offseason, and if Velasco can come back from his own injury, then there is certainly no rush to lock in Pouncey.

No no, the money, no matter what is left should go to Keisel.  Shoring up that defensive line to help make sure the run stop and pass rush is as good as it could be is much more of a priority this season.  I just don’t see Pouncey sustaining the level of play he has in his Pro Bowl seasons that would force the Steelers to pay big bucks in 2015 for him.  They can risk the wait.  I can see a large rift becoming even wider between Big Ben and the front office the longer his contract extension waiting game goes on.  In fact, the two sides have sworn to secrecy about negotiations, which means something must be going on.  We’ve heard nothing through the wire about Pouncey – though that doesn’t necessarily mean that there aren’t discussions.

The priority is Keisel, Ben, then Heyward.  Then Allen.  And then and only then should the Steelers consider Pouncey.  And by then, there’s no money – Ed B’s or spotrac’s.

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Tags: Brett Keisel Maurkice Pouncey Pittsburgh Steelers

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