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Author Topic: Looking back: should we have kept Plax?  (Read 3293 times)
Hercules50
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« on: Oct 15, 2007 at 08:00 »

During and immediately after 2004, I was completely sure we shouldn't re-sign Plaxico Burress. He looked like an underacheiving player who didn't put up enough big plays for a guy with his skills, who would drop the tough catch as often as he'd make it, who disappeared for long stretches in big games.

He really seems to have grown and developed his game since then, and now he may be a top-5 NFL receiver. Steve Smith and Randy Moss are the only ones who are clearly better, and even Moss may still be a product of insane talent around him.

Could we have found a way to keep him? Should we have anticipated that he was still a developing player and could get better? Would he make a difference in a season like this, when our likely playoff rivals are stocked with big-time playmakers? Would he help Ben's development? Or -- did we make the right choice? Is Plaxico not worth big money, is he just putting up big numbers on a team forced to throw a lot?  
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TwistedLemon
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« Reply #1 on: Oct 15, 2007 at 08:49 »

I do not feel we should have kept him, and am fine with what we have for now.  It may seem, due to recent injuries, that it would have been beneficial.  Hines and Holmes are a good pair, but the injuries have not allowed them to be together as often as we would like.  I have also found both Heath and Speath to be useful as receivers this season.  I am sure WR is a position of target in upcoming off-seasons due to age and growth.

We won a SB without Plax.  We are 4-1 without Plax.  We do not seem to have the ego issue without Plax.  We have a team where it appears everyone knows their roles and steps up when times of need are about.
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LambertsFrontTeeth
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« Reply #2 on: Oct 15, 2007 at 09:28 »

Going back into a time-machine and forcing the Steeler's FO to sign Plex would have unforeseen consequences, the most significant of which might be a Colts 2005 Super Bowl trophy.

Fuck the Giants. They can have Burress. We got Lombardi.  
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Finnegans Wake
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« Reply #3 on: Oct 15, 2007 at 09:37 »

He's had a very solid run in NY, but I'm all for keying in on a core of irreplaceable players, and just developing talent.  In this quid pro quo, we're really asking, "Would it have been better to keep Plax rather than drafting Holmes?"  Aside from cap implications, I think Holmes could soon be at Plax's level of play, and he has a better long-term prospect.
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Hercules50
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« Reply #4 on: Oct 15, 2007 at 09:53 »

I suggested this just as a thought experiement -- and I fall on the side of thinking that we did the right thing. My question was prompted by the notion that I'm less sure of this than I was before this year, because I think Plax has developed into a better player than he was when he was a Steeler.

Arguments for:

-- I understand the "maybe '05 would have turned out differently" argument. But how would we have done worse with Burress-Ward-ARE at wideout? The only way we would have done worse is if signing Plax would have meant NOT extending Ward, and he would have been pissed, and the chemistry would have been off. I think that we could have found a way to re-sign both of them -- not sure how, but I think we could have. Maybe not re-signing Ike? We wouldn't have needed to waste $10 million on Cedric Wilson, too.

-- I am a huge Holmes fan. But two things:
(a) I'm not sure keeping Plax means we wouldn't have drafted Holmes. I think it means we wouldn't have drafted Heath Miller (and maybe we would have drafted an OL or CB instead?)
(b) Even being a huge Holmes fan, and I think he's going to be a star, he's not there yet, and we need to beat the Patriots or Colts THIS year to win the title. And he's not as good as Plax is right now.

-- An elite-level deep threat like Burress can have a ripple effect -- for example, it can help conceal shaky pass-protection, because it can help dissuade teams from blitzing. Thus, possibly, 2006 wouldn't have been quite the disaster it turned out to be, and it could further help this year when we still seem to have these issues.

--Imagine what Ben might be able to accomplish with Plax-Ward-Holmes; he is going to be forever hamstrung in comparisons to Brady and Manning because he doesn't have great protection and his receivers, while pretty good, arent' on the Pats' or Colts' levels.

Conclusion: I don't think we should have re-signed Plaxico, for the record. I'm just having some fun thinking through a 'what-if' and want to see if you guys think I'm crazy.
« Last Edit: Oct 15, 2007 at 09:55 by Hercules50 » Logged
Big Virgil
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« Reply #5 on: Oct 15, 2007 at 10:10 »

I almost posted something about Burress over the weekend.  Did yinz see the clip of him catching a ball, smacking a CB in the mouth and scooting up the sideline for a TD?  I think it was a TD anyway.  Where was this player a few years ago?  It just takes some guys longer to develop and realize they have to work hard to make it happen.  Burress is definitely not a big picture kind of guy, but now it seems like he gets it.  Good for him, but I'm OK not having him.    
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msdmnr2002
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« Reply #6 on: Oct 15, 2007 at 11:32 »

Even had we resigned him, there's no guarantee Plax would be playing like this for us.  Maybe he would have, but I think 5 years is plenty of time to decide if a reciever is worth the big contract or not.  Based on what we had seen at that point, we did the right thing.  I'm sure the Rams probably wish they had never traded Bettis to us, but at the same time if the system didn't suit him there, he wouldn't have been as successful.  The Giants system probably suits Plax more than ours did at the time.

Congrats to him for his success, but we did what we had to do.
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padgfrombf
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« Reply #7 on: Oct 15, 2007 at 11:54 »

Plax started training in Florida in the offseason a couple of years before he left the 'Burgh, rather than hang out in Va. Beach.  He was clearly improving even in his injury-filled contract year in 2004.  I'm glad to see that the light went on for him, especially far away in the NFC.

I don't know if keeping Burress was a real option in 2004.  IIRC, the Steelers were bumping hard against the cap and already reworking contracts even to get Ced.  Geez, we couldn't even keep Keydrick Vincent after that year.  I don't think the question is whether the Steelers would have avoided the draft tradeup for Holmes; there's a whole year and SB that separates Spike's departure and that draft.

Further, I suspect that if the Steelers had signed Burress for 2005, another head or two would have had to go as well.  Maybe Hartings.  In any case, the extra loss might have come back to bite us in 2005 and, as JSplat notes, I'd rather have a Lombardi than a Burress.

Now if the Steelers had had more cap room, then I think it would be an interesting question.  IMO, they would have tried to keep Plax in town.  
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aj_law
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« Reply #8 on: Oct 15, 2007 at 12:26 »

Quote
He really seems to have grown and developed his game since then, and now he may be a top-5 NFL receiver. Steve Smith and Randy Moss are the only ones who are clearly better, and even Moss may still be a product of insane talent around him.
 
Top 5?  Nah.

Moss.
Owens.
Smith.
Fitzgerald.
Harrison.
CJ.
Wayne.

All better.  That's just a quick list too.

But, I hear what you're sayin'.  His production has improved (somewhat) since he left, while Ward's has tapered off a bit.  A lot of that has to do with the weapons (and system) around him.

When it's all said and done though, I highly doubt Pittsburgh would've been able to keep Ward and Burress.  If I had to choose one, I'd go with who they did.
« Last Edit: Oct 15, 2007 at 12:26 by aj_law » Logged

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aj_law
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« Reply #9 on: Oct 15, 2007 at 12:29 »

Oh yeah, speaking of possible Plax moves, in hindsight, I do wish they would've pulled the trigger on that then rumored Plax for LJ trade.  That's about my only real regret concerning him.
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