Plaxico Burress and Santonio Holmes’ Long and Unlikely Journey to the New York Jets

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After opting to leave the Steelers for a more sizable contract after the 2004 season, Plaxico Burress landed in New York with the Giants. After a Burress-less year in Pittsburgh, in the 2006 draft the team went out and selected a young speedster out of Ohio State by the name of Santonio Holmes to be his replacement.

At that point, who would have known that in 2011 the NFL would see the likes of these two receivers joining forces with the New York Jets.

Burress was drafted by the Steelers with the No. 8 overall pick in the 2000 draft out of Michigan State. He was a physical threat, giving smaller defenders fits with his size. Over a five-year stint with the team, he recorded 261 receptions, 4,164 yards and 22 touchdowns.

But when Burress’ contract was up after the 2004 season, and the young receiver wanted more money, the Steelers cut ties and allowed him to leave freely.

And that’s when payday came with the Giants. Burress signed a 6-year, $25 million contract to play in the Big Apple. Donning a new No. 17 jersey, Burress kept the physicality he showed in Pittsburgh to continue to be a dominating force as a possession receiver. The same skills that enabled him to make the Super Bowl XLII-winning grab to defeat the Patriots in 2008.

But before all this a change was occurring in the receiving corps in Pittsburgh.

After Plaxico’s departure before the 2005 season, the Steelers won a Super Bowl of their own. Once the season ended, the Steelers’ front office decided they would need more weapons for their franchise quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger.

Enter Santonio Holmes.

The defending champion Pittsburgh Steelers selected Holmes with the No. 25 pick in the 2006 draft. Holmes made an immediate impact as a speedy slot receiver, burning NFL defensive backs to the end zone. While with the Steelers, Holmes amassed 235 receptions for 3,835 yards and 20 touchdowns. Holmes, ironically, has also made a Super Bowl-winning touchdown grab, his coming a year after Burress’s against the Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII earning him MVP honors.

Unfortunately, at this point in our story, Burress is in prison.

After his catch to knock off the Pats, Burress was involved in an accidental self-shooting at a New York nightclub. After leaving the hospital to take care of any wounds, Burress turned himself in for criminal possession of a handgun.

Burress was released by the Giants on August 3, 2009 and 17 days later was sentenced to two years in prison.

If one post-Super Bowl heroics turned run-in with the law isn’t enough, after Santonio Holmes’s MVP performance, an incident in an Orlando nightclub followed by instances of Holmes referencing marijuana in tweets put him in Commissioner Roger Goodell’s doghouse.

After the instances, Holmes was dealt to the New York Jets for a 5th round pick. Shortly after the trade, the NFL suspended Holmes for four games.

Holmes had success in his first season with the Jets, a season that was stopped one game shy of a Super Bowl appearance by Holmes former team, the Pittsburgh Steelers.

In an attempt to find the right pieces to get the Jets one step further and make it to league championship, the Jets front office re-signed Holmes to a five-year contract. With Braylon Edwards not panning out, the Jets were in need of a new possession receiver to give their offense a threatening look.

Exit Plaxico Burress.

On June 6, 2011, Plaxico Burress was released from prison on good behavior. On July 29, 2011, Plaxico Burress was reinstated by the NFL. And as of July 31, 2011, when he inked the $3 million contract, Plaxico Burress is a New York Jet.

After two careers-worth of Super Bowl glory and legal troubles, the two ex-Steelers, one who replaced the other, will be dressed from head-to-toe in green and white next season.

And this will mean trouble for other NFL teams.

Analyzing the two receivers styles of play, they complement each other perfectly. Holmes, a dazzling slot, and Burress, a 6’5” possession guy, will give the Jets both speed and size for Mark Sanchez to throw to.

Despite not having played in two years, Burress still can be a force. While in prison, he lost no inches off his 6’5” frame and his desire to be back on a football field will be enough alone in helping him produce this season.

As for Holmes, his new contract should keep him happy and playing hard in a Jets uni.

One thing is for sure, not many NFL defenses will have a strong desire to meet up with the Jets this season.


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