“Da Beard” Brett Keisel has been re-signed by the Pittsburgh Steelers. The 35-year old defensive end has been with the team since 2002, winning Super Bowls XL and XLIII. While his performance in recent years has slumped from his earlier days, his new contract is a bargain for the franchise to keep a valuable leader and fan favorite.
Obviously a player being a fan favorite is not always enough, but in Keisel’s case, he still brings enough additional perks to the defense that warrant his continued membership on the team. He is by no means one of the elite defensive linemen of the last ten years, but his consistency is unquestionable and his contributions to the team’s two most recent Super Bowl wins are well noted.
He has been a consistent starter since 2005 and has averaged around 42 total tackles per year since then, with his lowest year being 2013 in which he made 29 tackles in 12 games, and his highest in 2006 when he made 55 tackles, starting all 16 games. He also had four sacks last year. Since 2005, he has averaged just over three sacks per year. These are by no means elite among NFL defensive ends, but they are very respectable. Taking the value of his new account into consideration, Keisel’s re-signing is a good choice by the Steelers.
His new two-year contract is worth $3 million. This is a small price to pay given the many things Keisel still brings to the table. Given his conditioning and attitude, he is still capable of providing the defense with 35-50 tackles per year, along with a couple of sacks. He remains a fan favorite, both due to his long standing participation with the team and city of Pittsburgh. Finally, as the Steelers continue to groom new linemen, Keisel’s experience and interpersonal abilities will continue to be beneficial to the defense.
In short, a Pro Bowl season is unlikely to the point of being nearly impossible, but keeping Keisel around is a necessary choice. While his performance on the field has dipped notably, he is still a fantastic dressing room personality and his popularity with the fans makes him an asset. Even if he is unable to start this year or next, keeping him on the roster will be beneficial to other young defensive linemen in development in addition to the fact that he will be a very solid backup if need be.