The Steelers released defensive end Brett Keisel, who spent 13 seasons with them and finished fourth on the team in 2014 with 12 quarterback pressures despite missing the final four games because of a torn triceps.
Keisel took to Twitter after his release Monday to say goodbye to Steelers fans.
Keisel composed an unlikely run with the Steelers after they took the BYU product with the 242nd overall pick of the 2002 NFL draft.
He stood out on special teams early in his career before graduating to the starting lineup in 2006. Keisel had been one of a dwindling number of Steelers who played key roles on the teams that won two Super Bowls and played in three of them from 2005 to 2010.
Keisel re-signed with the Steelers in August and gave them solid work as a situational player before suffering a season-ending injury in late November.
"We have had conversations with Brett over the past couple of weeks during which we communicated our intentions to him," Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said in a statement released by the team. "Brett has played a major role in our success during his 13 years in Pittsburgh. We appreciate his efforts and we are grateful for what he helped us accomplish, including two Super Bowl Championships. We will always consider him an all-time Pittsburgh Steeler."
So will a lot of fans.
Keisel, who recorded 30 career sacks and regularly batted down passes at the line of scrimmage, made a Pro Bowl with the Steelers despite getting overshadowed by other players on their defense.
He also developed a persona in 2010 when he grew a thick beard that became his trademark and helped "Da Beard" raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for charity. Keisel's annual Shear Da Beard event benefited Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. He held it roughly a month after every season dating back to 2011 and raised over $250,000 at the event in which celebrities helped cut his beard.
Keisel was a leader in the locker room for the Steelers, and his loss leaves a void that defensive end Cameron Heyward, his protégé, will help fill.
Keisel had said last month that he was working his way back from the triceps injury and was open to playing the final year of his contract.
The Steelers save $1.5 million in regard to the salary cap by releasing Keisel. His release signals that defensive end/nose tackle Cam Thomas is safe after there had been speculation about the Steelers cutting ties with him.