Plax is back where it all began as the Pittsburgh Steelers signed veteran receiver Plaxico Burress on a deal to the end of the year.
Burress was originally drafted by the Steelers in 2000 number 8 overall and was very productive in his time with them. He topped the 1000 yard receiving mark twice in his first spell in Pittsburgh despite the shoddy quarterback play he had to suffer through (Kordell Stewart, we’re looking at you). In his first spell in the steel city, Burress also broke the franchise receiving record for yards in a game (253) .
He left after the 2004 season to join the New York Giants where he would make his biggest impact on the NFL stage, culminating in his famous touchdown catch against New England in the Giants’ Super Bowl win.
After a spell in jail for gun charges and even worse for Burress, a season with Mark Sanchez throwing him the ball for the Jets, he hit free agency after the 2011 season and struggled to find a team to catch on with.
Injuries have however opened up a spot for him on the team that drafted him and Burress finds himself in familiar surroundings. One does though have to wonder why it took the former star receiver so long to find a new home.
Age is surely a factor in this as Burress, now 35, showed signs of slowing down in his one season in the green of the Jets. He showed he is no longer a guy that can go deep and get behind defences as he could in the early days of his career. Plaxico was never a huge downfield threat but it was certainly something that was within his locker and in 2011, it was apparent this was no longer an element the lengthy receiver from Michigan possesses.
The reputation that the Michigan State grad has established for himself through his off the field transgressions will have surely counted against him in the minds of general managers. As well as the very publicised fire arms arrest in 2008, Burress has a litany of other minor offenses against his name. You combine this with talk of him being a disruptive influence in the Giants locker room and you can understand why teams have been hesitant to bring him into their locker room.
The Steelers have however saw fit to bring Burress back into the fold for the yellow and black in a move that could work well for both parties. With the Steelers languishing as the twentieth ranked red zone offense, Burress provides a big target for whoever the Steelers will have at quarterback. Despite the lack of deep speed Burress showed whilst with the Jets, he still possessed the propensity for finding pockets of space in the endzone.
As the Steelers locker room is laden with so many veteran players working hard for one final Super Bowl, it is unlikely that Plaxico would upset the chemistry that Pittsburgh has. I also believe that Burress knows this is his last chance in the NFL and if he is to play next year he has to behave himself in Pittsburgh
So all in all the Steelers have acquired a potential big red zone threat for pretty much nothing with little to no risk as they can cut him if any of his past indiscretions rear their head. Moves like this make sense for playoff contenders late in the season as it is a no lose situation.