One of the Steelers most beloved players seems open to continuing his career with the team, as Brett Keisel has recently expressed his desires to return for a 13th professional season.
After a torn triceps ended Keisel's season in November, it looked as if the injury might have been career-ending. Keisel, however, has stated,"I'm still under contract, so who knows what's going to happen" according to Scott Brown of ESPN.
Keisel's declaration of intent, while admittedly vague, certainly opens the door for the former Pro Bowl defensive end to return to the Steelers. Due $1.5 million next season, Keisel would continue playing with the understanding he would be relegated to a backup role, where his most important purpose would be providing veteran leadership.
Of course, a Keisel return is entirely dependent on the Steelers' interest, as owner Art Rooney II recently stated the team hadn't yet made a decision on their tetrad of aging defenders.
Keisel has been an endorser of new defensive coordinator Keith Butler, and even at his advanced age, Keisel played well in his limited action during the 2014 season. With Cam Thomas likely becoming a roster cut, the Steelers are thin at defensive end, outside of the superior talents of Stephon Tuitt and Cameron Heyward.
In fact, Keisel was responsible for the play that probably saved the Steelers season (hyperbole considered) when he intercepted a pass near the end of the first half in a game against the Texans, allowing the Steelers to continue their torrid scoring pace where they lit the scoreboard up with 21 unanswered points in a three minute stretch.
Regardless of whatever decision is made regarding Keisel's future, the city of Pittsburgh owes a debt of gratitude to the bearded defender. His intimidating, lumberjack appearance was juxtaposed by his kind, gentle nature where he contributed to numerous charitable organizations, including an annual shearing of his trademark facial hair, with proceeds benefiting the UPMC cancer centers and Children's Hospitals.