By Matthew Marczi
Player: Plaxico Burress
Position: Wide Receiver
Experience: 12 Years
Free Agent Status: Unrestricted
2013 Salary Cap Hit: $620,000
2013 Season Breakdown: When Plaxico Burress was first released from prison in 2011, the Pittsburgh Steelers were interested in bringing him back, but he instead signed with the New York Jets, who offered him more guaranteed money.
In 2012, Burress couldn’t even find a team—which actually made his decision to take the guaranteed money look even more like a wise one—until the Steelers fell into a rash of injuries at the wide receiver position, and he ended up playing the last few games of the season. He even caught a few passes, with a touchdown in the season finale, in a very limited role.
When free agency rolled around, the Steelers re-signed Burress immediately to a one-year contract. The team clearly felt that he was a strong locker room presence, and it also somewhat assuaged their quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who has not only long campaigned for a big receiver, but is friends with Burress.
That, however, doesn’t mean that Burress was a lock to make the roster out of training camp, and in fact, as well all know, he wasn’t even able to finish training camp, as he tore a rotator cuff after being out-jumped for a ball in practice in early August. He didn’t even make it to the preseason.
The Steelers instead carried the 6’6” Derek Moye on the roster as the fifth receiver, who did make use of his height on a pair of nice catches during the season, including one in the end zone, though he also dropped another potential touchdown pass.
With the also-tall-but-not-Derek-Moye-tall Justin Brown stashed on the practice squad, it wasn’t even clear that Burress would be able to unseat either one for a roster spot last year, let alone this year, though in fairness he could likely have been considered the front-runner for the spot at the time of his injury.
Free Agency Outlook: If the Steelers do decide to re-sign Burress again, it will be almost purely as a charity case with no guaranteed money of any kind, and I wouldn’t expect him to make the roster. Burress will be 37 by the time the 2014 season starts, and he will be coming off surgery on his rotator cuff.
While Burress has purportedly been a ‘good locker room guy’, there are some questions lingering. Is he really much of a veteran presence? Consider the fact that rookie Markus Wheaton went to Jerricho Cotchery for advice and a role model.
Others in the media, chiefly Jim Wexell, have implied that Burress’ work ethic is lacking, which is not something to showcase to young players on the field. Whether or not he’s a positive attribute off the field, if he’s not benefitting the team on the practice field, he’s not going to benefit the team in stadiums. This is almost assuredly the end of the road for Burress.
Other Steelers Free Agent Player Analysis
Ryan Clark – Unrestricted Free Agent
Emmanuel Sanders – Unrestricted Free Agent
Brett Keisel – Unrestricted Free Agent
Jerricho Cotchery – Unrestricted Free Agent
Ziggy Hood – Unrestricted Free Agent
Jason Worilds – Unrestricted Free Agent
David Johnson – Unrestricted Free Agent
Jonathan Dwyer – Unrestricted Free Agent
Fernando Velasco – Unrestricted Free Agent
Cody Wallace – Unrestricted Free Agent
Will Allen – Unrestricted Free Agent
Stevenson Sylvester – Unrestricted Free Agent
Felix Jones – Unrestricted Free Agent
Al Woods – Unrestricted Free Agent