Cedrick, entertain us

<b>PITTSBURGH -- </b> In a move that signals the end of the Plaxico Burress era in Pittsburgh, the Steelers signed Cedrick Wilson to a four-year contract Tuesday.

Wilson gives the Steelers a group of receivers similar in size to the champion New England Patriots, and he believes it's the coming trend.

"If you watch the guys on this team, Hines Ward and (Antwaan) Randle El, and the guys in New England, those guys have been pretty successful so far," Wilson said. "So the faster guys have really become a threat in this league and that's why I feel I can be successful."

Wilson, 5 feet 10 and 183 pounds, agreed to an $8 million deal that includes a $2 million signing bonus.

A lifelong fan of the Steelers, Wilson becomes the team's fastest receiver and said his ability to stop and start is "better than any receiver's in the National Football League."

That particular skill will allow him to "create tons of separation from defensive backs," Wilson said. "Definitely with the new rule, those guys can't hold on as much, and fast receivers are becoming lethal weapons in this league."

Wilson, 26, played four years with the San Francisco 49ers after being drafted out of the University of Tennessee in the sixth round in 2001.

Wilson started three games for the 49ers in his first three seasons before starting 15 games in 2004. He had career highs in catches (47), yardage (641) and touchdowns (3) last seaosn, but the 49ers made no attempt to keep him.

"They wanted to go in a different direction," Wilson said. "They're doing some rebuilding, new coaching staff, new general manager. There were a lot of reasons of mine: I wanted to be on a winning team; I wanted to have an opportunity to win a Super Bowl."

Wilson grew up in Memphis as a Steelers fan and said, "My phone's blowing up as I speak to you because everyone wants to congratulate me. They're very excited for me and I'm very excited to be here. I can't wait to start."

Wilson will compete with Randle El for the Steelers's open split-end position opposite Ward.

"I could play outside; I could play inside," Wilson said. "It really doesn't matter to me. I can do it all."

Wilson's versatility is his best asset, according to Steelers director of football operations Kevin Colbert.

"He's played outside, he's played a lot in the slot," Colbert said. "There are also the additional abilities to be a return guy and you can never have enough return guys in your arsenal. And really he adds an element of speed and that's something we want to upgrade and add to, and it gives us another threat. Another thing is, getting a guy like Cedrick, he's only 26 years old, so you're getting an experienced guy but an experienced guy with an upside and that's always a good way to do it."

Colbert said the Steelers are not done shopping for free agents. He also didn't rule out bringing Burress back.

"A lot of strange things can happen in free agency," Colbert said. "We never want to say never."

Burress is schedule to meet with the New York Giants on Wednesday.

The Steelers lost linebacker Kendrell Bell, who signed a seven-year contract with the Kansas City Chiefs on Tuesday.


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