Regardless, Woods is not coming back to Pittsburgh. It also was reported yesterday that Ziggy Hood was visiting with the Jacksonville Jaguars. My guess is that Ziggy would prefer to find a team that would play him at defensive tackle in a 4-3.
That leaves the Steelers suddenly pretty thin on the defensive line, on a defense that already wasn’t very good against the run last season.
They’re probably ok (but there’s room for improvement) at Nose Tackle with McLendon and Hebron Fangupo.
However at end, Cameron Heyward is the only proven player available. Practice squad player Brian Arnfelt had a strong preseason last year, but I think that Steelers fans tend to get a little too enamored with guys at the bottom of the roster.
Arnfelt making the final 53 would be a huge accomplishment, but we need someone with experience to start across from Heyward if we want to improve defensively.
The Steelers rarely give new contracts to guys well past their prime, especially lately. It’s been obvious over the past few years that they’ve wanted to get younger on defense, and Keisel will be almost 36 years old when the 2014 season starts.
That being said, I think it would be wise for them to bring him in on a one year deal that would certainly be near the veteran minimum.
The Diesel missed 4 games in 2014 and appeared to lose a step but still added 4 sacks for the season, which isn’t bad at all for a DE in Lebeau’s scheme.
To me, the question is really what other options do they have? They could bring in a free agent like Adam Carriker or Pat Sims… but I don’t see much point unless you see a free agent as a future starter like Mike Mitchell will be.
Any of those guys would go through the same growing pains learning our scheme, so to me you might as well draft a guy and let Brett Keisel groom that rookie for the position.
I think that right now Ra’Shede Hageman could be in play in the first round.
Brett knows that position as well as anyone and despite losing a step is still a solid option at the position. Ziggy Hood was never able to beat him out, so let the next young draft pick try to.