At 8:30 this morning, ESPN and Adam Schefter reported that Plaxico Burress signed with the New York Jets. Terms of the deal – one year $3.017 million. Good for Burress because I feel his worth was slightly less than that coming out of jail at around $2-2.5 million/year. I didn’t think he would be a good fit for the team if he was anything of his former self of lax effort and play. Regardless of my own opinions, the Steelers entertained Burress at the St. Vincent campus for the better part of Saturday – breakfast with Tomlin, lunch with Big Ben and numerous talks with Colbert and Omar. Numerous players spoke of Burress saying that they would like to have the guy on the team. Despite that optimistic outlook of landing Burress, he is taking the next plane back to NYC. If the Steelers did indeed give him an offer and could not compete with a $3 million offer from the Jets, then this FA period looks bleak at best. So who do the Steelers land?
The Steelers have released numerous players and let others get away (like Matt Spaeth) to make the desperate room within their salary cap. Even with the extra $3 million in cap money the league is giving each team the team is having a very difficult time managing who gets signed or released. There is always the option of restructuring a long term player’s contract in order to free up the cap. There’s a misconception to restructuring as taking less dough, but it just means getting creative with the books in a legal way. A player will get all the money promised in the original contract – they just get a bigger bonus and less salary. It’s a dicey game to play, especially for guaranteeing money to a player who could get injured and land on the IR early on in the season. But the Steelers have done it before and will probably look to it again up until Thursday.
Even if the Steelers can get creative with restructuring and resign free agents at a discount, will they ever have enough financial fire power to land a high profile player they desperately need? The missed Burress for only $3 mil. They are currently trying to land tight end Daniel Graham (former Bronco free agent). Will they have enough cash to get him on the practice field August 4th? The simple fact that we couldn’t get a guy who was a former Steeler and just spent the last 2 years in jail to sign on the dotted line worries me. There are circumstances to look at, however. Were he to sign with Pittsburgh, where would Burress fit into an offense that has 4 solid receivers? Whereas in Rex-land, Mark Sanchez will be asking fans in the stands to come play catch for him if they don’t get someone other than Santonio Holmes on the field. So in a way it’s understandable that Burress would want to go somewhere where he is guaranteed to get more reps. And, maybe Burress only wanted one year where the Steelers wanted him for two or more.
Did the Steelers put too many eggs in one basket by signing Ike Taylor? The financial terms have yet to be released on this deal. We know it’s four years, but for how much? The Steelers have created a bunch of holes to land Taylor AND try to stay under the cap. But will they have enough dollar signs to hang from that stick to lure in some key positional players? Sometimes I just can’t understand what it takes for a NFL football player to sign with a particular team. You would think that 6 Lombardi’s (2 in the last 6 years) and last year’s ‘one that got away’ would be enough of a lure. The Steelers, if they can avoid the SB loser blues, are one of the more poised teams in the entire league to return to the big dance. Maybe Rex told Burress that he guarantees a Super Bowl victory if Burress comes to play for them.
The Steelers have until Thursday to get under the cap, and that they MUST do. And by then, we’ll have a clearer picture as to how this team will be shaped for Week 1.