Colbert: Steelers won't rule out signing Keisel, others before season starts

Some players who open the regular season for the Steelers might not be with them in training camp today, and that goes for defensive end Brett Keisel.

General manager Kevin Colbert would not rule out the team re-signing Keisel, 35, or acquiring players released by other teams before the Steelers season kicks off Sept. 7 against the Cleveland Browns at Heinz Field.

"We haven't eliminated any players from consideration and we always just look at where we are," Colbert said, "because we don't know what's going to happen over the preseason, even into the season.

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"There have been times when we've brought back veteran players due to injury. We won't eliminate anybody. If we eliminated a player, we always tell [him]: 'Don't keep us in your thought process.' "

Keisel, who played all 12 of his NFL seasons with the Steelers, became an unrestricted free agent this year and received no credible offers. He let it be known he did not want to play for the minimum wage, which would be slightly more than $1 million. He started the past eight seasons at right defensive end, missing four games last season with an injury.

The Steelers have such a young team that they could add players as others release them in the final cuts. Rosters stand at 90 now but must be reduced to 53 a week before the regular season opens. That comes to 1,184 players who will become available.

"I don't worry about the final 53 at this point in time," Colbert said. "There will be players who are going to be cut who will be better than maybe some of the guys we have on our 53, so there is no panic at this point because there is going to be a whole other group of players, both young and old, who will be available when teams make their cuts. So you may add somebody at that point.

"Right now, if you're looking for immediate help with everybody at 90, it's a struggle right now because the rosters are full and the streets are limited. That will change when that final cut comes through.

"Again, we're still light years away from the first game."

They are even further from signing Ben Roethlisberger to a contract extension. That will not happen before 2015, but Colbert issued a guarantee of sorts.

"I don't see any circumstance where Ben won't finish his career here."

Colbert even hopes Roethlisberger's bargaining power increases this season.

"That would be wonderful if he had his best career year ever and we win the Super Bowl. There wouldn't be any complaining for sure."

Roethlisberger is a big reason the Steelers did not drop below 8-8 the past two seasons, Colbert said.

"It's painful to go through that losing season where you totally bomb. The worst we've been is 6-10, and that was when we ended up drafting a quarterback. When you have a guy like Ben, he helps you sustain even through the lean years. When you have a franchise quarterback, they can get you through some tough times.

"Fortunately, we've had him through this whole stretch and, again, if we add the right people in the mix and he continues to do his job, I would hope we wouldn't be 8-8 again. We never want to go through that extended valley where you have to start over."

Colbert said young players will have plenty to say about that record in 2014.

"We're a much younger team, and I think the success of this team will be determined by the pace at which the young group develops."

The general manager reiterated what Steelers president Art Rooney said last week, saying one reason they want to hold off on Roethlisberger is to use their available cap room to possibly sign some of their other players whose contracts expire after this season: Jason Worilds, Marcus Gilbert, Cortez Allen and Shaun Suisham.

"We still have a good four weeks to try to get something done, and that's where we are right now."

Ed Bouchette: and Twitter @EdBouchette. First Published July 28, 2014 12:00 AM

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