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

Pittsburgh Steelers Sign Keisel, What It Might Mean

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The Pittsburgh Steelers came out of nowhere on Tuesday and made a move that surprised just about everyone… maybe even Brett Keisel himself.

Keisel must have been fairly surprised since he was already in transit to Arizona (aka Pittsburgh West) for a physical with Cardinal team doctors when he received the call from Pittsburgh.  The flight to Arizona forced the Steelers front office’s hand, and they made him an offer that convinced him to turn the plane around.  Financials of the deal have yet to be released as of Wednesday morning, but we do know that the term is for two years.

Two years?

If signing Keisel wasn’t a loud enough statement that the Steelers weren’t comfortable with the state of their defensive line, two years should be making most scratch their heads.  The length must have been a demand of Keisel more than an original offer from the team.  I just can’t see the Steelers actually wanting to stay committed to a guy of Keisel’s age and yearly declining play for more than a year at a time.

So what does this say and mean for the rest of the Steelers defensive line?  No one is certain quite yet, and all will be revealed in time.  Keisel is more than likely not ready to play in a game yet.  Steeler Nation probably won’t see him in Philly, but more than likely for the final preseason.  If he does appear in Philly against the Eagles on Thursday, he will be very limited and most likely on the second or third team defense.  Special teams? Probably not.

Jun 17, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Stephon Tuitt (90) participates in drills during minicamp at the UPMC Sports Performance Complex. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers would not have signed Keisel unless they expected him to play and get a large chunk of snaps each game.  I called him a sideline “Dad,” but that was probably an incorrect thought in the genesis of the news breaking.  Are the Steelers unhappy with Stephon Tuitt’s progress?  Or is it Cam Thomas?  My guess is that they are unhappy and uncomfortable with Cam Thomas at the moment.  Brian Arnfelt is being outplayed by Josh Mauro, and it looks like Arny is on his way out – perhaps even in this first round of cuts.  Keisel is here to shore up, not ride the bench and wait for an injury.  He’ll find his way into sub packages, but where?

Just some speculation here, but I would not be surprised if the Steelers move Cam Heyward from left defensive end to right defensive end, kicking Arnfelt out, and sliding Thomas to second team.  That would put Keisel at the left end and thus sharing time with Tuitt.  Nick Williams and Josh Mauro stay put.

Twitter reactions for the most part were positive and some were luke warm.  Only a small handful from what I could see were cold to the idea of Keisel coming back.  I’m lukewarm myself.  I was a very large advocate for the team to sign Keisel before camp – if only for the aid in the development of the younger guys on the line.  But, it would seem that the faulty run defense has DLB and Tomlin a little shaky in the knees about moving into the regular season with who they have currently – even though from most reports, Tuitt has been progressing very nicely.

One thing is certain, Keisel is one happy guy to be back.

What are your thoughts on this signing and what it means for the defensive line play?

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