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Question of the Day
PITTSBURGH (AP) - Plaxico Burress shook hands. He bro-hugged. He talked. He listened. He watched. He hung out. He paced.
The one thing the free agent wide receiver didn’t do on Saturday while visiting the Pittsburgh Steelers is sign a contract.
Instead Burress hopped into an awaiting limo just as the team began afternoon practice at Saint Vincent University following a lengthy visit in which he met with owner Art Rooney, director of football operations Kevin Colbert and head coach Mike Tomlin when he wasn’t catching up with old teammates.
“Obviously he’s interested,” Colbert said. “Drew (Rosenhaus) his agent is interested and we’re certainly interested.”
Consider quarterback Ben Roethlisberger chief among those hoping to land the soon-to-be 34-year-old. He spoke to Burress several times following Burress‘ release from prison in June after serving 20 months on a gun charge.
Though the defending AFC champions aren’t exactly hurting at wide receiver with veteran Hines Ward, budding star Mike Wallace and youngsters Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders, Burress would give the passing game an added dimension. For all their speed, Ward and company _ all 6-feet and under _ can’t look the 6-foot-5 Roethlisberger in the eye. Burress, also 6-5, can.
“For this offense we’ve got a lot of weapons, a lot of tools (but) anytime you can just add something, say it’s a (fast) guy, a tall guy … he can help the young guys and I think that’s good,” Roethlisberger said.
The day with the Steelers came a day after Burress spent 90 minutes talking with New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin. Burress caught the game-winning touchdown in the team’s upset of the unbeaten New England Patriots in the 2008 Super Bowl, before his career derailed after he accidentally shot himself in a New York nightclub in 2009.
Burress spent five seasons in Pittsburgh, catching 35 passes for 698 yards and five touchdowns in his final year with the team in 2004 as it slowly broke in Roethlisberger, a rookie at the time. Burress moved on to New York, where he thrived catching balls from Eli Manning but often ran into trouble with Coughlin.
Now the mercurial but talented wide out is hoping to revive his career much in the same way Michael Vick did with the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Steelers would like to help, but Colbert knows Burress‘ return won’t come down to sentiment, it’ll come down to money. And there’s a very real chance economics could get in the way of Burress sharing a huddle with Roethlisberger in the fall.
Burress‘ legal troubles cost him two years in his prime, and despite the layoff he knows there are few free agents on the market with his size and resume. He won’t come cheap, which could be a problem for Pittsburgh.
The Steelers began training camp about $10 million over the projected $120.4 million salary cap and released veterans Flozell Adams, Antwaan Randle El and Max Starks earlier in the week to trim payroll. Further cuts could be coming, and some contract restructuring is expected as the team attempts to sign young core players such as linebacker Lamar Woodley to extensions.
By Andrew P. Napolitano
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