The Pittsburgh Steelers officially announced the signing of veteran safety Keanu Neal on Tuesday, and now the contract details have come to service. According to Ari Meirov of the 33rd Team, Neal received a two-year, $4.25 million deal from Pittsburgh.
Neal is expected to be the Steelers No. 3 safety, so the compensation is on par for a veteran backup safety. Damontae Kazee, who is slotted to start opposite of Minkah Fitzpatrick at strong safety, was re-signed to a two-year, $6 million deal that includes a $1.75 million signing bonus, according to Aaron Wilson of KPRC 2 Houston.
Neal can play in the box and will replace some of the things Terrell Edmunds did with the Steelers. The Steelers made an offer to Edmunds, but he chose to accept a one-year, $2.85 million offer from the Philadelphia Eagles. Given the contact that Edmunds received in Philadelphia, it appears that he was just looking for a change of scenery.
“We have a lot of respect for Terrell and he’s been here for five years,” Omar Khan said at the owners meetings in Phoenix. “You know, we were interested and had conversations with him. But he decided that the best thing for him was to pursue an opportunity elsewhere. But I’ve got a lot of respect for him and he’ll always be a Steeler. We had a lot of good talks with him and his agent throughout the process.”
The duo of Kazee and Neal were the Steelers contingency plan at safety with Edmunds leaving, which didn’t come as a surprise to Khan as free agency is an open market.
“It’s free agency. In free agency, they have the ability to sign and make bank anywhere else,” Khan said of Edmunds chosing to sign with the Eagles.
Neal, who was originally selected by the Atlanta Falcons in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft at 17th overall, has played in 80 career games, starting 61 of them in seven seasons. He has 463 career tackles, 320 solo stops, and 21 tackles for a loss. He has 20 passes defended, 11 quarterback hits, eight forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries, three interceptions and 2.5 sacks. Neal recorded a combined 14 passes defended and eight forced fumbles in his first two seasons in Atlanta. He also recorded over 100 tackles in each of his first two seasons and was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2017.
Injuries derailed Neal’s 2018 and 2019 seasons. After a bounce-back year in 2020, Neal signed a one-year deal with the Dallas Cowboys in 2021, starting five of the 14 games he played. He finished that season with 70 tackles, 42 of them solo stops, and added one sack. Neal played linebacker while in Dallas.
Neal spent the 2022 season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, playing in all 17 games, with eight starts. He finished the season with 61 tackles, 39 of them solo stops, two tackles for a loss, four passes defended, one interception and half a sack.
“What’s going on Steelers Nation? This is Keanu Neal here. I just signed, ready to go. I mean, bring that physicality, bring that presence. I’m ready to get after it. Here we go!” Neal said in a video released by the team on Tuesday.
The team’s full salary cap situation can’t be resolved until contract details for fellow recent signings Zach Gentry and Breiden Fehoko are also revealed.