I was sitting around Saturday night, basically over-dosing on not only the wacky NFL free-agency period that has taken place since the end of the lockout, but the Major League Baseball trade deadline, when my brother called me shortly after 10pm to tell me that Plaxico Burress had signed with the Steelers. I couldn't believe it! Burress was released from his two-year prison term in June, and there was much speculation as to where Plax would resume his NFL career. Burress met with his previous team, the New York Giants, on Friday, and visited with the Steelers on Saturday. Plax's old Steelers' teammates, and most Pittsburgh fans, had warmed-up to the idea of Burress re-joining the Steelers. And since the 2011 free-agency signing period has been so crazy, I didn't think it was at all strange that Burress would so quickly re-sign with the team that drafted him out of college eleven seasons ago. After all, it's been nearly three years since Burress last played in the NFL. He was going to need time to get adjusted to the NFL lifestyle, once again. No reason to delay the process by going on some lengthy free-agency tour.
I was so excited. I was about to email Michael and inform him of the breaking news. After many years of blogging, I would finally have my first breaking story! But just to make sure the news was 100% accurate, I surfed the Internet to double-check the story and could find nothing on Plaxico signing with Pittsburgh. I texted my brother and told him that I couldn't find anything on the web, and he told me that his friend relayed this information to him and was certain that it was correct.
Instead of jumping the gun, I decided to hold-off on this "breaking news." As it turned out, I was right in being cautious about it because I found out yesterday morning that Plaxico Burress had signed a one-year contract with the New York Jets. Instead of signing with the team that originally drafted him, or the New York team that he played for before going to prison, Plax will be trying to find out if he still has "it" with the other New York team.
I have no problem with Burress going somewhere else and not signing with Pittsburgh. After all, the Steelers have a pretty good situation going with their wide-receiving corps.
Pittsburgh still has the services of a future Hall of Famer in Hines Ward, a budding star in Mike Wallace and two 2nd year receivers in Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown, who more than made great impressions in their rookie campaigns during the Steelers march to Super Bowl XLV.
Adding Burress would be a mere luxury for next season. The team really needs to focus on finding depth at other positions.
The Steelers' receiving situation should be more than okay in 2011, but what about 2012? Would you object to Burress signing with Pittsburgh next season? Plaxico only signed a one-year contract for just over $3 million for 2011. At this point, he's not obligated to play for the Jets beyond the up-coming season.
What if Burress demonstrates that he still has the ability to play receiver at a high-level, would you object to him coming back to Pittsburgh next season?
Hines Ward isn't getting any younger, and at 35, this may very-well be the last season of his legendary career with the Black and Gold. If Hines hangs up his cleats after this season, the Steelers will have to rely on a very young receiving group and could use the services of a veteran like Plaxico.
I'm not worried about Plax's attitude or anything like that. Yes, he's a different kind of character, but from what I've heard over the years, his old teammates, and even the local media, seem to really like the guy. If Burress had any of the characteristics of a "locker room cancer", the local Pittsburgh media surely would have pointed it out a long time ago.
As far as Steeler Nation is concerned, it appears that Burress has built-up some good-will with a fan base that, at one time, was more than skeptical of his character.
Burress will be 35 at the start of 2012 season, but he's been inactive for so long, his 35 year-old body may not have the same wear-and-tear as a Hines Ward. My hunch is Burress has a few good years left in him.
Even if Hines Ward doesn't retire after this season, the Steelers appear to be in "now" mode what with the signings of old vets like Chris Hoke. Adding a Burress to the mix next season may not be as crazy as it sounds. As most Steelers fans know, the Black and Gold could always use a tall receiver.
What do you guys think?