Burress saga takes a strange turn

The bizarre events of Plaxico Burress' NFL career continue to unfold before our eyes.

Monday, things took a strange turn as Burress reportedly blew off a scheduled meeting with New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin without explanation.

Of course Burress may have been miffed he's not receiving the interest on the free agent market he had expected. The Giants have reportedly floated a six-year $20-million contract offer to Burress' agent that includes a signing bonus of just $4 million. That's a far cry short of the $12-million bonus Burress was said to be seeking prior to the opening of free agency last week.

But one week into free agency, the market for Burress has been soft and a number of other receivers have already found new teams, shrinking the market considerably. In fact, if the Giants sour on Burress after Monday's slap in the face, his options may be limited to Minnesota, Washington or returning to the Steelers. But none of those teams have had any negotiations as of yet to retain Burress' services.

This is, of course, not the first time Burress has blown off a meeting with a team. You'll remember he skipped a dinner meeting with Steelers head coach Bill Cowher back in 2000, a move that did not deter the Steelers from making Burress the eighth-overall pick in that year's draft.

The Steelers, meanwhile, are looking at possible replacements for Burress and hosted San Francisco free agent Cedrick Wilson Monday. The 5-10, 180-pound Wilson caught 47 passes for 641 yards and three touchdowns in 15 games for San Francisco last season.

The Steelers are also expected to bring New York Jets tight end Anthony Becht in for a visit sometime this week.

In other news Monday, the Steelers locked up veteran cornerback Willie Williams to a two-year deal worth $2.5 million, including a $500,000 signing bonus, while place-kicker Jeff Reed accepted a five-year contract worth $7.5 million, including a $1.5 million bonus.

The contracts are the third given out by the Steelers in the past week. Linebacker Larry Foote was signed to a five-year, $13.4 million deal that included a $3.25 million bonus last Monday, the day before the free agency period began.

Re-signing Williams and signing Reed to an extension had been a priority for the team.

Williams started the final 10 regular season games last season and both playoff games after Chad Scott injured his knee Oct. 17 at Dallas. Williams finished the season with 57 tackles, one sack and one interception.

He is expected to provide the team with a veteran backup to Ricardo Colclough and Ike Taylor, who will battle for a starting spot opposite Deshea Townsend next season.

Reed, meanwhile, was a restricted free agent, but had been offered a mid-level tender by the Steelers to retain his rights. As such, had he not signed a new deal, he would have earned $1.43 million next season.

Instead, the Steelers will pay Reed a base salary of $455,000 this season, putting his salary cap number at a more reasonable $755,000.

Reed finished his third season as the team's kicker on a strong note, missing just one kick at Heinz Field last season while making his final 21 field goal attempts, a team record.


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