Brett Keisel took a jet Tuesday to Arizona to apparently sign with the Arizona Cardinals, but after landing at the airport in Phoenix, he was informed the Steelers wanted him for one more season.
The 12-year veteran defensive end hopped back on a plane to Pittsburgh and will sign a contract to play his 13th NFL season with the Steelers, who drafted him in 2002.
“I am very excited to finish what I started in 2002 with the Steelers,’’ Keisel wrote on Twitter. “Time to get to work.’’
Keisel, who turns 36 next month, became an unrestricted free agent in March and the Steelers made him no offers until now. He will rejoin a defense that has undergone a youth movement but one that has not quite gained the coaches’ confidence in the defensive line. They signed veteran Cam Thomas from San Diego in free agency as a nose tackle/end and drafted end Stephon Tuitt in the second round.
How they use Keisel is the next question. Cam Heyward moved into Keisel’s spot at right defensive end, where he started the past eight seasons. Thomas had been starting at left end with Tuitt pushing him for that job. It’s possible that Heyward would move to the left side and Keisel would reclaim his job on the right.
Eric Metz, a Monroeville native who is Keisel’s agent, declared in the spring that his client was not interested in playing for minimum wage, which for him would be slightly more than $1 million. The Steelers and Metz were still working on financial details of the contract last night.
Keisel started 12 games last season and 110 over the course of his career. Drafted in the seventh round from BYU in 2002, he cut his teeth as a good special teams player and waited four years before he became a starting defensive end in 2006.
He was an every-down player for most of his career, although that likely will not continue in 2014.