I don’t want to pretend the ink has been put on the paper yet but Keenan Lewis re-signing with the Pittsburgh Steelers would be just another in a long line of Steel City reunions.
So let’s get a little nostalgic with the previous players who left for greener pastures but always knew where their home was.
It seemed to start in 2010 when the Steelers got pieces of their 2005 Super Bowl band together. They re-signed Antwaan Randle El after four years in Washington. Bryant McFadden was traded from Arizona while Larry Foote was welcomed back after a miserable year in Detroit.
Randle El caught just 22 passes but McFadden started all 16 games, picking off two passes and forcing another pair of fumbles. Foote played four more seasons in Pittsburgh, starting 16 games in 2012 and likely would’ve done the same the following year until a Week One torn bicep ended his season and Steelers’ career.
The front office took the same approach in 2013, bringing back William Gay from Arizona and Matt Spaeth from Chicago. Gay went from Steelers’ Nation whipping boy to now the best corner on the team, earning one more contract in the offseason. Spaeth was released in the offseason after injuries but he gave Pittsburgh three more seasons as a valuable blocker.
Pittsburgh linked back up with David Johnson this offseason after he spent two years in San Diego. Given Ladarius Green’s unknown return, it seems likely Johnson makes the initial 53 man roster.
It’s easy to see why players want to return. A stable organization with a singular mindset – win championships.
“Soon as it hit the wire that I was released, I got a call from the black and gold,” Gay told Gerry Dulac and Ed Bouchette when he re-signed in 2013. “That put a smile on my face — knowing the team that drafted me wanted me back.”
“The bottom line is, it came down to coming home to a more comfortable situation for me and, certainly, [having] some history here,” Randle El told Dulac in 2013. “It was one of the things that got me back here. I totally enjoyed playing before here and I know I will enjoy it now.”
Of course, this all doesn’t mean the Steelers are locks to sign Lewis nor does their past history compel them to. But history under Mike Tomlin illustrates they have no reservations about reuniting with ex-players. Lewis would serve as just another example of that.