Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Busy day for Steelers

The Steelers had a busy day at the office, agreeing with defensive end Brett Keisel on a return and signing offensive tackle Marcus Gilbert to a five-year, $30-million extension that includes a signing bonus of $7.68 million.

Gilbert's deal came first and locks the team's starting right tackle up through the 2019 season when he'll be 31.

Gilbert was one of four players on the team's wish list for deals to get done this preseason. That list also included placekicker Shaun Suisham, who signed an extension a couple of weeks ago, linebacker Jason Worilds and cornerback Cortez Allen.

It appears at this point, the team doesn't have anything imminent with Worilds or Allen.

Keisel's return had long been rumored. The 13-year-veteran still hadn't cleaned out his lockers - yes, he has two - at the team's practice facility and wanted to play at least one more season.

Arizona attempted to bring him in for a physical Tuesday after losing Darnell Dockett to a knee injury Monday. But the Steelers preempted the move, getting in contact with Keisel's agent. He flew to Arizona, but quickly turned around and flew back to Pittsburgh, where he makes his home.

How the Steelers work Keisel into a rotation that already includes Cameron Heyward, free agent-signee Cam Thomas and rookie Stephon Tuitt remains to be seen.

Heyward, the starter at left defensive end in 2013, moved to Keisel's right defensive end position in the spring, while Thomas and Tuitt have been sharing time at left defensive end.

But there's little doubt the team could use his veteran leadership. He was the team's defensive captain the past two seasons and is one of the more respected players in the locker room.

33 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hey Dale - Trying to assess the 53 and the impact of #99's return. I like the leadership he brings.....but I still want Mauro to make the team. He's the second coming of Aaron Smith, and the Stanford education helps as well. Our DLine was a weakness last year - we found some young talent and need to hold on to them. Would like to see Heyward, Thomas, McClendon, Tuitt, McCullers, Keisel and Mauro.

Not to insult the long snapper position but, is it way out of line to think one of our centers (not Pouncey) can assume that role for two weeks? I'm sure they performed that role in college and we can save that roster spot, at least for the short term.

KT said...

Who do you think this leaves as the odd man out of those trying to make the team?

Theosa said...

I agree with Anonymous, Keisel returns means some young player gotta go, this signing is pretty much a slap on the face of youth movement. I do like the Gilbert signing and hope that Steelers do some trade involving Will Allen, Mike Adams, Chris Carter and get a decent backup QB. I'm also in the minority that think Suisham signing was questionable. He is only good at average distances. I don't know how the Ravens find gem after gem at kicker and return man positions.

Dale Lolley said...

"He's only good at average distances."

Suisham is the most accurate placekicker in Steelers' history. Let me say that again. Suisham is the most accurate kicker in Steelers' history.

Greg Warren thinks he can be back in two weeks, so the extra spot for a long snapper might not be necessary.

Anonymous said...

Ok Dale I'll play. Since 2005 your almighty Suisham is 5-14 from 50+. Let me say that again. Since 2005 your almighty Suisham is 5-14 from 50+. With the Steelers he's 2-5 from 50+. Are you still with me? I hope you notice the most important part that he barely is allowed to attempt 50+ because he barely makes them. Give him half the attempts from 50+ that other kickers have to go for and he doesn't hold that title of "most accurate placekicker in Steelers' history" anymore. Acting like he's special not having to kick 50+ yard field goals. If that's not the definition of average than wtf is. I'm not wasting anymore time on it but look me up what other kickers FG% goes up to when you eliminate 50+ yard field goals.

Anonymous said...
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Dale Lolley said...

How in the hell is he my almighty? Because I said he's a good, accurate kicker? That's completely true, but the way. Does he have the strongest leg? No.

Jeez, some of you guys are freaking unbelievable.

Get a life.

adamg said...

There have only been a handful of 50+ yd FGs by ANY kicker at Heinz Field, so there's that.

Anonymous said...

Dale,

sorry about the weirdos that troll your blog and attack you over kicker statistics. So strange.

Anonymous said...

Sorry for writing that Dale I forgot to take my medication yesterday and it gets really boring down here in my mom's basement.

- Patrick :)

Anonymous said...

The ability to kick 50+ yard FGs cost the Steelers a trip to the playoffs in 2012 (TEN and CIN games)

Anonymous said...

So I would assume that Harrison would be the next up to take the trip to AZ, I just hope it's not a round trip like it was for diesel..

I like the signing of 99, I'm sure Ben had something to say about it. His leadership will be very well received in the locker room.

marc said...

dale,
regarding suisham, I think it came across that you thought he was awesome, which he is not. actually, I would not consider him to be one of the top 10 FG kickers in the league for one simple reason - he can't reliably make a FG over 50 yards.

consider that the top 10 kickers based on FG% (not including suisham) were 40-48 from 50+ yards last season and only one of them missed more than one attempt over 50. also consider suisham was the only kicker in the league to not even attempt a FG over 50 yards.

I will give him a slight pass because long field goals at Heinz field are tough, but they also play half their games on the road too. I don't know how much the steeler's are paying him compared to the other kickers, but I hope it's not top tier money.

Theosa said...

At a time when the new breed of kickers put the ball frequently behind the posts, Suisham is below average at touch backs. If preseason is any indication of what’s coming, he might struggle this season. I really hope that’s not the case as we all are passionate about Steelers football and want them to win and make the playoffs this season. We will find out soon enough.

Dale Lolley said...

"The ability to kick 50-yard field goals cost the Steelers"

Yes. Let's blame it on the inability to connect on a field goal from distances that the league average on whole is about 50 percent instead of blaming it on the offense being able to score a touchdown or the defense getting a stop. I understand the final plays of games or half or missed scoring attempts draw more scrutiny than others, but there's 100 plays per game that decide the outcome.

His contract probably comes in a little high - since it's north of $2 million per year - when compared to other kickers. But that's only because some of the "best" kickers are still working on their rookie deals. I don't get too caught up in highest-paid stuff since that changes from year to year.

The bottom line is that Suisham is a very accurate kicker from 49 and in. There should be some value in that. I doubt he plays out his whole contract. At some point, they'll look to go cheaper/better there. But he's pretty solid.

Dale Lolley said...

I might add, Theosa, that they are telling him to kick short in the preseason so they can take a look at their coverage units. Other teams have chosen not to do that. But Tomlin wants to see who his best KO coverage guys are.

Dave Nelson said...

Keisel's a good guy, but I don't like this. Who is going to get cut to make room - Mauro? If so, forget that. I'm OK with hanging onto Polamalu and (to a much lesser extent) Ike for another year (they were kind of forced to though - they should have cut bait with Ike and resigned what's his face now with the Saints), but please, I thought they were mostly done with bringing back the geezers. Leadership is great and all, but I think they're quickly going to see that Keisel doesn't have much to offer anymore.

Dave Nelson said...

2 year contract?! Better be a realistically one year deal for not much more than vet minimum. No matter what, I would have spent that money elsewhere. I don't know what Cortez Allen is asking, but unless he craps the bed this year, they're going to be up the creek without a paddle cornerback-wise next year if he leaves.

Anonymous said...

Yeah cornerback is a serious concern for this year and next year. Would be interesting to know who the corner free agents will be this offseason

Theosa said...

Dale, I’ve heard those Coach Tomlin’s comments too and I hope Suisham’s leg strength is much improved this season. I did not see too many touchbacks from him last season.
I’m with Dave Nelson and others over Kiesel, at age 36 with part time role, and the fact that no other team wanted him except for Arizona out of necessity when their DE went down, he’d be expensive anything over vet minimum.

marc said...

dale,
actually, the league average over 50 yards is 67% and the top 10 kickers were 83% from that range.

it's not the biggest problem in the world for the steelers, but it does change the complexity of the game in certain situations when teams know the steelers can't kick a 50+ yard field goal. I would take a 90% kicker (the league average inside of 50) who can boot 4-6 from over 50 over suisham any day.

adamg said...

Keep in mind, Keisel was already 24 in his draft year (2002) and didn't get significant playing time on defense until 2004. So while he will be 36, he hasn't taken quite the same wear and tear as other players his age.

Theosa said...

Keisel has been one of the best and productive value players for Steelers for a long time, no one can deny that. But age catches up. Harrison did not have too much mileage on him either but he got old (Steelers still wanted to sign him for $6 million when Bengals got him for third of that money). What is the vision in keeping Ike Taylor over Keenan Lewis, playing Will Allen over Shamarko Thomas, having Keisel and letting someone like Mauro go? I understand Steelers know their business but you wonder if coaches have favorites? We fans do.

Dale Lolley said...

This isn't likely to cost Mauro a job if they feel he's one of the top 53. They've kept seven linemen in the past. Keisel, Heyward, McLendon, Thomas, Tuitt, McCullers and Mauro is seven.

It could mean, however, they only keep eight linemen. Or three true running backs. Or four wide receivers, etc.

I might add for those saying he can no longer play that he finished with 4.5 sacks last season and was third in pressures.

It is a two-year deal, but that was so bonus money could be spread over the second year. It's likely that this is it for him.

kyle said...

I'm not going to weigh in on the kicker debate because, you know, it's the kicker.

I am fine with Keisel. Anyone who thinks the Steelers brought him back because of "leadership" isn't giving the Steelers brass much credit. They brought him back because the depth players have not shown enough for the staff to have confidence in them.

We get giddy about an underdog who shows up in preseason games but that's because that's all most of us get to see from them. The fact is, Mauro's two sacks and his hustle are great but the coaches watch him in practice every day and have a lot more information. And who knows if he's the one to get cut. Someone like Nick Williams could be put on the Practice Squad. It could come from another position group. Everyone assumes "Oh, so and so won't last a second on waivers" but then every year we watch a small handful, at most, of players get plucked from the PS

Keisel will rotate in. He knows the defense inside and out (so to speak). He didn't look great before or right after his injury last year but he played up to his level the last couple games. A rotation of Cam Thomas, Tuitt, and Keisel suits me just fine. Those guys all bring something different to the table but have enough overlapping skills to not be liabilities in situational football.

Theosa said...

Who knows what step Steelers might take but I did not say Mauro will get cut, I said “someone like Mauro” implying some young player would. The season will settle the Keisel and Suisham debate, since both are on the team; I and other fans will root for both. You would think next year Ike and Polamalu go, and Heath Miller maybe in the next two but you never know.

Anonymous said...

Dale, didn't you yourself imply that some of the Steelers young players felt there was a "glass ceiling" in the Steelers organization that favored veterans at the cost of young players?

Not saying that bringing back Keisel is part of that, but it's no wonder people are worried.

adamg said...

Karoly made a good point, imo, that signing Kiesel frees up Thomas to rotate with McLendon at NT given that McCullers isn't quite ready for that role. Kiesel/Heyward/Tuitt can then rotate at DE since Thomas hasn't exactly lit it up at DE.

Dan said...

Does anyone remember Suisham's horrific shank in Super Bowl XLV? He missed wide left by 20 yards. I haven't trusted him since.

Suisham may be great at hitting 35 yarders in the regular season, but a truly great field kicker wouldn't have a miss of that magnitude. Plus, he cost the Steelers the Raiders game last year...

Anonymous Brian said...

Looks like there's worse things to worry about then the kicker and Mauro. Got to be kidding me.

Patrick said...

blount man and chronic

Anonymous said...

Dumbasses!

Dale Lolley said...

There are some who think the coaching staff relied on the vets too much. But they don't have a bunch of vets any longer. Keisel makes five guys over 30.