Former New York Jets receiver Jerricho Cotchery will be replaced by former New York Jets (and Steelers and Giants) receiver Plaxico Burrress, and the Steelers also sign quarterback Brian Hoyer as the 2012 season takes a very strange turn. Baron Batch and Marshall McFadden were cut to make room on the roster.
Who could or would have predicted this forty eight hours ago. Or better yet, what if eight days ago (before the Monday night contest against the Chiefs) someone would have said that Pittsburgh would be going into its game against Cleveland with Charlie Batch being the last man standing at quarterback, and his receiver corps would include Plaxico Burress. Was there a terrorist attack?
Yes, the team had its injury problems, but the quarterback and wide receiver rooms were healthy for the most part (an ankle injury to Antonio Brown being the only blemish) and deep. No question that the narrative for this season has taken a radical turn.
But what does it all mean? Okay, speaking of strange narratives, let's begin with Plaxico. When he signs his contract this will mark Burress' 11th year in the NFL. For those of you who are either new to Steeler Nation or have memory issues Plax began his journey out of Michigan State as a Steeler and was the team's number one receiver (paired for the most part with Hines Ward)from 2000 to 2004.
Plax's 6'5" frame created match up problems for most teams. His last year with Pittsburgh coincided with the rookie season of Ben Roethlisberger and Ben lobbied hard for the team to retain Burress. However, Burress would move on and played four seasons with the New York Giants. The highlight of his tenure with the Giants would be the Super Bowl following the 2007 season.
He caught the game winning touchdown, as dramatic in its own way as Santonio Holmes' catch a year later, that won the Lombardi for the Giants, and perhaps more importantly for Steelers fans, sunk the New England Patriots perfect season.
And then he shot himself.
Bad enough that Plax shot himself in a New York nightclub, but then he was sentenced to two years in jail for shooting himself. Actually, it was for a firearms violation, but it sounds crazier the other way (certainly someone was more deserving of the jail space, but that's another story).
And that is why this will be his 11th season as opposed to being his 13th. Plax met with the Steelers during the summer before the 2011 season before signing with the New York Jets. Bottom line. Forget about all the drama surrounding his departure from Pittsburgh, the jail time, whatever.
Burress is a quality addition, particularly if it is as third or fourth receiver. With a healthy Antonio Brown it would be, with all due respect to Jerricho of whom I am a big fan, a more potent and dangerous quartet of receivers. Plax is still a 6'5" match up problem, a possible deep threat and a real problem in the red zone for defenses. Good luck trying to cover him with your third or fourth defensive back.
He is familiar with the organization, the culture, and perhaps most importantly, the quarterbacks (Ben and Charlie). A quality addition and potentially a huge difference maker to a unit that may already be the best in the league. As for quarterback.
As anyone who reads me regular knows (often to their disdain) I am a Charlie Batch fan. So I believe the offense is in the best possible hands absent Ben. The only issue being in light of the rash of injuries is whether he remains upright. Otherwise he should be able to handle the challenge of Cleveland and he represented well when he started against the Ravens in 2010.
I don't know much about Hoyer other than the fact that he, like Burress is from Michigan State and has spent his three year NFL career in the Patriot organization, which means he's had experience being part of a championship caliber team. Hopefully that's all we'll need to know about him because otherwise that means something has gone horribly wrong.