Jets reach agreement in principle with Burress

By Dennis Waszak Jr.

Associated Press

Published: Sunday, July 31 2011 9:33 a.m. MDT

NEW YORK — Plaxico Burress is back in the Big Apple — with the New York Jets.

The former Super Bowl star with the Giants, recently released from prison after serving 20 months on a gun charge, reached an agreement in principle Sunday on a one-year deal with the Jets, the team said.

Burress, who turns 34 on Aug. 12, caught the game-winning touchdown in the Giants' upset of the unbeaten New England Patriots in the 2008 Super Bowl, before his career derailed after he accidentally shot himself in a New York nightclub later that year.

His second chance at the NFL comes with a team that was interested in him a few years ago before he went to prison. Now, he'll likely join the recently re-signed Santonio Holmes as Mark Sanchez's top receivers.

Burress wrote on his Twitter page: "East Coast here I come!" Sanchez retweeted his new receiver and added: "Paperwork in hand??? Haha welcome to the squad"

Burress met with the Pittsburgh Steelers, where he spent his first five seasons, on Saturday after sitting down with Giants coach Tom Coughlin on Friday. Burress mentioned he would be interested in playing for several teams, including the Jets — and didn't even need to meet with general manager Mike Tannenbaum and coach Rex Ryan to make his decision.

ESPN first reported the deal, saying it is for $3.017 million fully guaranteed. Burress was in Los Angeles on his way to a meeting with the San Francisco 49ers, ESPN reported, but canceled that trip when the Jets contacted him.

Because of the NFL post-lockout rules, Burress can't practice with the team until Thursday. But clearly, the Jets are confident the former Pro Bowl receiver has a lot left as they try for a Super Bowl run. Burress gives Sanchez a big receiver — he's 6-foot-5 — to complement Holmes, Jerricho Cotchery, Dustin Keller and a solid running game with Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson.

The Jets are hoping Burress can revive his career the way Michael Vick did with the Eagles after serving 21 months in prison for his involvement in a dogfighting ring.

Burress pleaded guilty in August 2009 to attempted criminal possession of a weapon after accidentally shooting himself in the thigh at a Manhattan nightclub in November 2008, accepting a two-year prison term. He was released about three months early for good behavior, but will be on parole for two years.

He has to get and keep a job, undergo substance abuse testing, obey any curfew established by his Florida parole officer, support his family and undergo any anger counseling or other conditions required by his parole officer.

Burress has 505 catches for 7,845 yards and 55 touchdowns in his NFL career with the Steelers and Giants.

He caught 35 passes for 698 yards and five touchdowns in his final year with Pittsburgh in 2004 as the Steelers slowly broke in Ben Roethlisberger, a rookie at the time. Burress moved on to New York, where he thrived catching balls from Eli Manning, but often ran into trouble with Coughlin.

The move softens the blow for the Jets after losing out on getting cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, who was New York's top priority after re-signing Holmes. But Asomugha surprisingly signed with Philadelphia, and the Jets were forced to turn their attention elsewhere.

The addition of Burress likely means Braylon Edwards will not be back with the Jets after nearly two seasons in New York. Edwards, a free agent, repeatedly said he was interested in returning, but it was believed the Jets wouldn't be able to keep both him and Holmes.

So, the Jets took a chance on Burress, hoping he'll be able to help the passing game. Ryan, in a voice message to Jets fans after the lockout, said the team planned to have Sanchez "let it fly a little more than we have in the past."

Burress appeared to have a good visit with the Steelers on Saturday, when the wide receiver caught up with former teammates — including Roethlisberger and Hines Ward — and met with owner Art Rooney, director of football operations Kevin Colbert and coach Mike Tomlin.

Tomlin called the sit-down "good," while the normally tight-lipped Colbert was decidedly open when talking about the nature of the discussion, saying: "Obviously he's interested. Drew (Rosenhaus), his agent, is interested, and we're certainly interested."

That came a day after Burress spent 90 minutes talking with Coughlin. Despite not meeting with him during his visit, quarterback Eli Manning said he would be happy to have Burress back with the Giants, but added that he wasn't going to lobby management to re-sign him. Manning and Burress combined for 33 touchdown receptions from 2005-08, with none being bigger than the game-winning TD in the Super Bowl victory over New England in February 2008, when Manning won the MVP.

AP Sports Writers Tom Canavan in East Rutherford, N.J., and Will Graves in Pittsburgh contributed to this report.

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