Return Of Emmanuel Sanders Means Plaxico Burress Is Not A Lock To Make The 2013 Roster

Now that the Pittsburgh Steelers have decided to match the one-year, $2.5 million offer sheet given to restricted free agent wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders by the New England Patriots, we have a firmer grasp of what the wide position depth chart will look like heading into training camp.

To begin with, Sanders will obviously now start opposite Antonio Brown. Backing up those two will more than likely be Jerricho Cotchery, who is entering his third year with the team. Fourth on the depth chart currently is Plaxico Burress, who was re-signed to a one-year deal at the start of free agency.

In 2010, the Steelers traded Santonio Holmes to the New York Jets for their fifth-round draft pick. During the draft that followed both Sanders and Brown were selected and  the Steelers started the season with six wide receivers on their 53 man roster. Will they dare carry six again this year, or is five the most likely number?

Arnaz Battle was one of the six wide receivers in 2010 and more of a special teams player than he was a reserve wide receiver. That makes me believe that we could be headed towards five this year, even if the Steelers wind up drafting two wide receivers in less than two weeks, which I doubt that they do now that Sanders has been retained.

We are pretty sure, however, that one drafted receiver will make the 53 man roster, so that leaves Burress as a player not guaranteed a roster spot right now. For him to not make the roster, a player such as David Gilreath, who saw very little time on the roster last year, will have to beat him out. That is not out of the question.

Gilreath, unlike Burress, can return both punts and kicks, so this could help his cause. Behind Gilreath, in no particular order, sits Bert Reed, Derek Moye and Kashif Moore, who are a long-shots to make the 53 man roster right now.

The Steelers will more than likely add a few undrafted receivers to serve as camp bodies, but it will be surprising to see any of them stick as well.

There is always the chance that the Steelers could still sign free agent wide receiver Steve Breaston at some point, assuming his knee is not a problem. This would further threaten the roster spot of Burress.

The one-year deal that the Steelers gave Burress included a $65,000 signing bonus and that is all that it will cost them against the cap should the former first-round pick not make the 53 man roster.

Some are already speculating how Burress will help the Steelers in 2013, but that is foolish, as he really isn\’t guaranteed anything but a spot at training camp right now.

  • Kevin Gobleck

    I hope we keep Plax unless we draft a big bodied reviever.

  • steeltown

    Agreed… Gilreath and Moore are both threats in the return game.. both have a real shot this offseason, especially if someone is injured in the preseason.

  • moderatelysane

    I expect them to draft 1 for sure, 2 if the draft gives them a second good one. If that happens, Plax has to beat out one to make the squad. Plax is nothing more than an insurance policy.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    i was honestly shocked to see he was signed to a contract this year.

  • charles

    Maybe Ben can pull a pro bowl year out of Plastico. They were very good friends, otherwise it would be great to see Gilreath make the roster if only for special teams.

  • steeltown

    Yea, but his deal is a one yr qualifying contract, meaning nothing guaranteed, no dead money no nothing.. he could be released before the season with no ramifications

  • Bet you Plaxico DOES make the roster. We’ll see.. #GoSteelers

  • hergieburbur

    And if the WR we draft appears to be working out, I think that happens. It’s not like those three catches, 42 yds and 1 TD are going to be all that hard to replace. Plus, I wouldn’t exactly call him a locker room leader either.

  • hergieburbur

    I’d like to see Moye at least make a splash in preseason, but that is mostly because he is a friend of a friend and a fellow Penn Stater.

  • hergieburbur

    And considering his production and contract, not exactly an expensive one at that.

  • I’d take Burress over Gilreath any day. Gilreath is just another below average receiver that gets run up on from behind and fumbles the ball.

  • Maurice_hill_district

    Agreeing. & Breaston’s not dependable now. After Brown & Cotchery & Sanders whom is only average, Burress is the best of the rest, though could say best of the bums. Gilreaths are on every teams’ camp rosters every year. This tells us we are not deep at receiver & why matched Sanders’ offer. If we had any receiver over 6’1 though, Plax would not be in the conversation, Plax is about our being desperate for a big target for Ben. But I agree with you.

  • Maurice_hill_district

    Just because Gilreath & other camp bodies can return punts or kicks, doesnt mean they are threats in STs. We can find a threat for STs in camp, another Stef Logan, or Rainey-type but cheap. If Gil or Moye shows to be best of those for returns, then ok. The WR we draft will probably return punts or kicks unless he is 6’5. Bet the RB we draft will return kickoffs.

  • SteelSpine

    Funny thing is Patriots could now use their 3rd round pick this year to get a slot receiver who might be more dependable hands than Sanders or tougher than Sanders. This year’s draft pool is a good one for any team needing WRs.

    Plax’s contract is so low risk the only things we’ll lose keeping him is reps for new WRs & special teams help, but I could foresee Plax not making it past training camp into preseason games based on if lost too much speed. Not that speed was ever his asset, his asset is of-course size. But I recall last year before signed Plax I wondered why he was still available so long, then I read a reporter or scout who watched him on another team said Plax available because lost too much speed, then I noticed for us on a couple plays (square outs) after Plax made the break/cut, he was too slow to get to the ball. If that’s still the case, it’ll show in training camp & wouldn’t make it to preseason. . Then remember as injury-prone as this team is, I don’t wanna jinx anyone but if our draftpick rookie WR & Sanders get hurt, they’ll have Plax’s phone number handy to come in during the season as an emergency patchwork.

  • steeltown

    Agreed. His size is very attractive on a roster full of small WR’s

  • hergieburbur

    I would bet a decent amount of money that his PB years are far behind him. Especially since he will be no higher than 4th on the depth chart. We can hope though.

  • steeltown

    Gilreath is only 24yrs old and has only been in the League two yrs

    The main issue with him is his size (weight) 170lbs is to slight and therefore he went undrafted, but he was an explosive college player, good all-purpose yds guy.. could very well beat out Burress considering his special teams abilities