NFL Free Agents: Plaxico Burress Unlikely To Return To Steelers

GREEN BAY, WI - FILE: Wide receiver Plaxico Burress #17 of the New York Giants reacts to the crowd during the NFC championship game against the Green Bay Packers on January 20, 2008 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin. According to reports on March 4, 2011, Burress wil be released from prison in June, three months early, for good behavior. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

For more on the Steelers, check out Behind The Steel Curtain.

The Post-Gazette recently ran an interesting article on the prospect of the Pittsburgh Steelers bringing back Plaxico Burress for the 2011 NFL season. Burress is about to finish serving a 21-month prison sentence for carrying a concealed firearm into a New York nightclub, a mistake that announced itself with a bang - literally - when the former Giants wideout shot himself in the thigh. Whoops.

Despite this embarrassing blunder and the time wasted in prison, Burress, the Steelers' first-round pick in 2000, has enjoyed a pretty impressive NFL career. Although he's had injury concerns from time to time, Burress has four 1,000-yard seasons under his belt, including a 1,325-yard 2002 campaign with Pittsburgh. And of course there was his game-winning touchdown catch (video) in the Giants' upset over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.

But now Burress will be 34 years old when if the regular season begins in September. Granted, the Post-Gazette makes some convincing arguments in favor of the Pittsburgh front office at least considering their former receiver. First, there's the front office's relationship with Burress, who was the team's first selection ever under GM Kevin Colbert. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger might also lobby for the reunion, as he loved throwing deep to the towering Burress early in his career. (Colbert tried, and failed, to replace Burress with the lanky Limas Sweed, but the team has never featured a wideout with Burress' exact skill set since his departure.) And of course, Burress may not be the least-wounded-by-his-own-gun cat in the nightclub, but he's "hardly your typical hardened criminal," as Ron Cook puts it. Pittsburgh usually steers clear of guys with character and behavioral issues, but Burress is no Michael Vick.  

Still, I really don't see this happening.

In fact, it's difficult to even imagine where Burress would fit into the receiving food chain if he once again donned black and gold. If you're head coach Mike Tomlin, are you really going to give Burress playing time over the speedy Mike Wallace, your emerging superstar? What about Hines Ward? True, this could very well be the year that the wheels fall off for the aging veteran - it tends to happen suddenly for wideouts - but Ward has been too good at finding soft spots in zone coverage on third down and moving the chains. Would you even play Burress as your third receiver over second-year guys Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown, both of whom showed promise in their rookie seasons? (If so, you'd have to line Burress up wide and shift Ward to the slot.) Even if the deal went through, it's hard to forecast Burress as anything more than fourth on the depth chart.

The biggest question, of course, is whether or not the guy can still play. He's been in prison for almost two years and isn't exactly a spring chicken. But even if Burress proves he's still got something left to give, Pittsburgh won't make a splash in free agency to acquire his services. With super-agent Drew Rosenhaus in his corner and two seasons' worth of foregone salaries, plus a mountain of legal fees staring him in the face, you can count on Burress pouncing on the most lucrative deal. And that'll be with a team with less depth at wide receiver and a greater willingness to toss money around than Pittsburgh.

Just like the rumors we debunked before the 2011 NFL Draft that Pittsburgh would try to pair Miami Dolphins offensive lineman Mike Pouncey with his twin brother Maurkice, Burress-to-Pittsburgh is a fun narrative to ponder in the news-starved dog days of summer - but ultimately not one that will pan out. 

Trending Discussions

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join SB Nation Pittsburgh

You must be a member of SB Nation Pittsburgh to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SB Nation Pittsburgh. You should read them.

Join SB Nation Pittsburgh

You must be a member of SB Nation Pittsburgh to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SB Nation Pittsburgh. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.