Last week, when defensive end Brett Keisel flew out west to visit with the Arizona Cardinals, the Pittsburgh Steelers got the wheels in motion to have him on the next flight back, signing the veteran to a two-year contract.
The deal came after the conclusion of training camp, which is the timeframe during which any move on the Keisel front was expected to take place anyway.
The Steelers wanted to get a long look at their young defensive ends to see if it was necessary to bring the veteran back, and they determined that it would be beneficial.
Not only will he be a valuable commodity in the defensive rotation, he will also serve as a great mentor for the young defensive linemen in the group.
That doesn’t just include the likes of Stephon Tuitt, Josh Mauro, and Nick Williams. That’s also Cameron Heyward and Steve McLendon, veterans themselves who will nonetheless benefit from having the old dog around for another year or two.
That’s not what would happen if the Steelers brought back former Pittsburgh outside linebacker James Harrison.
For starters, the Steelers are clearly content with Arthur Moats as the third option at outside linebacker behind Jarvis Jones and Jason Worilds.
Beyond that, they simply don’t rotate their outside linebackers like they do their defensive ends. Few teams do, and even fewer teams that are successful do.
That means Harrison likely wouldn’t be playing most weeks. And he’s not exactly a special teams contributor at this point in his career, so he could even be a game day inactive if brought back.
Finally, even if he’s basically said publically that he wants to play for Dick LeBeau and the Steelers, that doesn’t necessarily mean that he would be willing to settle for a bargain price on his contract.
And you can bet he wouldn’t exactly be the greatest cheerleader for the young bucks playing ahead of him, helping cultivate their game.
Quite frankly, they already have Joey Porter for that, and he’s doing a nice job of it, showing he can still bring the player’s perspective and incorporate that into his teaching methods.
Some Steelers take a one-year detour to Arizona before turning around. Keisel barely landed before heading back. But don’t expect to see James Harrison back on the field for the black and gold again.