After Antonio Brown and Jerricho Cotchery went down with injury last season, the Steelers were bare at the receiver position. Other than at the time invisible Mike Wallace, they had Emmanuel Sanders and David Gilreath. I don’t know about you, but that concerns me, as well as the Steelers. They were forced to then look at a receiving option on the free agent market. Terrell Owens? Thank goodness no. Chad Johnson? The day he would be a Steeler would be the day the Steelers fire Mike Tomlin, Kevin Colbert, and cut Roethlisberger, Miller, Polamalu, Brown, and Timmons. Basically, never going to happen. The Steelers decided to go in the direction of the man they had looked at the previous offseason: Plaxico Burress.
During the course of last offseason, I was pulling hard for the Steelers to sign Burress, even if it was for cheap. He just came off of an 8 touchdown season and he’s hungry to prove he can do it again! What more can you ask for from a guy that would be getting about 1 million. Unfortunately, the Steelers didn’t end up signing him until midway through the season. Literally hours before the free agency period began, the Steelers resigned Burress to a one year deal for the veteran minimum. If the Steelers wanted to cut Burress, they very well could, but the biggest question is: What does Burress still have to contribute?
At the age of 35, Plaxico is 1 of 3 players from the 2000 draft class still in the league today, other than Tom Brady and Center Brad Meester. After all the adversity Plaxico has faced, he is still here. I still firmly stand by the point that Plaxico Burress is exactly what the Steelers need. They have the speedy and shifty Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders, they have the tough as nails veteran Jerricho Cotchery, and they have the deep threat as well as crisp route runner who is raw but talented in Markus Wheaton. What are the Steelers missing you might ask? A tall physical receiver.
If you look around the NFL, look at the most dominant, hard to stop receivers: Calvin Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, A.J. Green, Julio Jones. What do they all have in common? Height and physicality! No, i’m not saying Plaxico Burress is going to be one of them, but look at what matchups problems tall receivers create for defenses. Plaxico has such crazy physical attributes that defensive backs have to jump and work hard just to reach Plax’s height. I was even more impressed when I watched Plax’s Sport Science on ESPN.
People have said so what? He’s only going to be a 4th or 5th wide receiver. Most likely yes, but guys like Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders aren’t exactly the best options in the red zone being under 6 foot. Plaxico Burress on the other hand is 6’5′ and excels in the red zone. He even said himself:
I know I can still play, I know I can dominate in the red zone. In those one-on-one opportunities, just succeed at a high rate. I know I can.”
Also, Plaxico Burress will be fantastic depth. He was brought in exactly for this purpose last season! Say Brown and Sanders go down, Plaxico will be there to step up. Even though Plaxico Burress doesn’t play tight-end, with Heath Miller to possibly miss part of the season, Plaxico Burress will be needed to help pickup the slack in the red zone with Miller potentially absent. Even if Miller is ready to start the season, imagine trying to cover a package with 6’5′ Burress and Miller, as well as an average handed Matt Spaeth who is 6’9′. That would be near impossible if you ask me.
With a full offseason under his belt, Burress should be in a much better chance to succeed this season. Even if he catches 4 touchdowns, he will make the Steelers look smart for what they paid for Plax. So what does Plaxico Burress have left? For 35, it will be fun to watch not if he catches touchdowns but instead how many he will catch.
Do you think Plaxico Burress was a good addition to the Steelers? Let us know in the comments.
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