The Pittsburgh Steelers brought back prodigal wide receiver Plaxico Burress Tuesday, hoping the 35-year-old can shore up their injured receiving corps.
The 6-foot-5 Burress hasn’t played since last season, when he scored eight touchdowns in 16 games for the New York Jets.
Pittsburgh has been beleaguered by injuries of late, with receiver Jerrico Cotchery suffering fractured ribs against the Ravens, and receiver Antonio Brown has missed two straight games with an ankle injury and is questionable for Sunday’s game against Cleveland.
Injuries aside, the signing is positive for both Burress and the Steelers for several reason.
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Drafted out of Michigan State in 2000, Burress spent the first five years of his career with Pittsburgh, the most productive time of his career. He totaled 261 receptions for 4,164 yards and 22 touchdowns.
When Burress was convicted and jailed for criminal possession of a handgun in 2009, he lost out on most of the five-year $35 million contract extension he signed with the New York Giants in 2008.
Since his release from prison, Burress has tried to make up for both lost time and dollars. Last season, he earned around $3 million with the Jets. While the terms of Burress’s new deal have not yet been disclosed, it could be a pro rated amount similar to his contract from last season.
New Receiving Threat
Burress’s height and impressive hands have made him an excellent target in the red zone throughout his career.
The Steelers are currently coping with an injury carousel at quarterback. Ben Roethlisberger will be out for several weeks, and backup Byron Leftwich is down with fractured ribs.
Charlie Batch is expected to start Sunday, but Burress will be an excellent target no matter who starts.
Wild Card Push
With a 6-4 record, Pittsburgh is currently the sixth seed in the playoffs, and just one game head of rival Cincinnati. The Steelers only face one team currently above .500 in their last six games, with two against Cleveland, but they do have a pivotal matchup against the Bengals in Week 16.
Burress should help the Steelers offense tremendously in the final six weeks, especially within the AFC North.
Matured Over Time
Burress served just under two years in prison for his gun charge mentioned above. The circumstances (accidentally shooting himself in the leg at a nightclub) made him a laughingstock around the league, and many doubted he would return at all.
Since his release, he has had no further troubles with the law, and may have turned a corner in his life. He will likely be a more focused player with the Steelers.