Plaxico Burress: Steelers Will Reportedly Sign Free-Agent WR

Ian HanfordFeatured ColumnistNovember 19, 2012

Plaxico Burress spent his first five NFL seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers after being drafted eighth overall by the team in the 2000 NFL draft.

UPDATE: Tuesday, November 20 at 12:50 p.m. ET by Timothy Rapp

And now he's back, or at least he will be very shortly, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN:

After watching wide receiver Plaxico Burress workout today, the Pittsburgh Steelers plan to sign him.

— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 20, 2012

Burress may not be the player he was the last time he put on a Steelers uniform, but he did catch eight touchdown passes for the New York Jets last year and should give the team a viable threat in the red zone. 

Stay tuned as more details emerge.

---End of Update---

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Burress is now expected to take a physical with his old team:

Filed to ESPN: Free-agent WR Plaxico Burress is expected to go to Pittsburgh to meet with and take a physical for the Steelers. Need WR help

— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 19, 2012

It's not that Burress doesn't make sense, but it's still surprising. The Steelers tend to distance themselves from players with character concerns, or prior legal issues, and Burress carries the legal side of that baggage after being sentenced to two years in prison in 2009.

But that doesn't mean the 10-year NFL veteran can't play still. He made an impact with the New York Jets in 2011, catching 45 passes for 612 yards and eight touchdowns. Even though he lacks breakaway speed at this point, his 6'5'' frame is dangerous in the red zone.

The move does make sense from a personnel standpoint, though. Antonio Brown is still recovering from a sprained ankle, and Jerricho Cotchery was injured in Sunday night's loss to the Baltimore Ravens, according to Adam Schefter.

Burress wouldn't provide Brown's game-breaking ability, but he could fill Cotchery's possession role. Allowing him to work underneath would open up the field for Mike Wallace and Emmanuel Sanders, while giving Byron Leftwich (or Ben Roethlisberger, if he returns this season) a safe option.

He had two 1,000-yard seasons in his first stint with the franchise. That can't be expected again, but he's a solid short-term fill-in for a team that's completely banged up on offense.

Just because he's taking a physical doesn't mean that he's a lock to return, but this sounds right for the time being. Pittsburgh knows that the line between playoffs and disappointment is very fine, and adding Burress could make a small, positive difference.

Stay tuned to B/R for more news.