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Second coming? Burress spends Saturday visiting Steelers

Plaxico Burress shook hands. He bro-hugged. He talked. He listened. He watched. He hung out. He paced.

The one thing the free-agent wide receiver didn't do Saturday while visiting the Pittsburgh Steelers is sign a contract.

Instead, Burress hopped into an awaiting limo just as the Steelers began afternoon practice at Saint Vincent University, after a lengthy visit in which he met with team president Art Rooney II, director of football operations Kevin Colbert and coach Mike Tomlin when he wasn't catching up with old teammates.

Tomlin called the sit-down "good," while the normally tight-lipped Colbert was decidedly open when talking about the nature of the discussion.

"Obviously, he's interested," Colbert said. "Drew (Rosenhaus), his agent, is interested, and we're certainly interested."

Consider quarterback Ben Roethlisberger chief among those hoping to land the soon-to-be 34-year-old. He spoke to Burress several times after the receiver's release from prison in June after serving 20 months on a gun charge.

Though the defending AFC champions aren't exactly hurting at wide receiver with veteran Hines Ward, budding star Mike Wallace and youngsters Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders, the 6-foot-5 Burress would give the passing game an added dimension of height. For all their speed, Ward and company all are 6-feet or shorter.

"For this offense, we've got a lot of weapons, a lot of tools (but) anytime you can just add something, say it's a (fast) guy, a tall guy ... he can help the young guys, and I think that's good," Roethlisberger said.

The meeting with the Steelers came one day after Burress spent 90 minutes talking with New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin. Burress caught the game-winning touchdown in the Giants' upset of the unbeaten New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII, before his career derailed after he accidentally shot himself in a New York nightclub in 2009.

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Coughlin said he wanted to see "sincerity" from Burress during their meeting. The Steelers certainly believed they received it from the player they picked eighth overall in the 2000 NFL Draft.

The San Francisco 49ers will meet with Burress on Sunday, KDVR-TV reported via Twitter.

The *New York Daily News* reported, also via Twitter, that the Jets invited Burress to visit Sunday, but if he returns to New York, it would be to rejoin the Giants.

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

Now the mercurial but talented wideout is hoping to revive his career much in the same way Michael Vick did with the Philadelphia Eagles after prison.

The Steelers would like to help, but Colbert knows Burress' return won't come down to sentiment but money. And there's a very real chance that economics could get in the way of Burress sharing a huddle with Roethlisberger again in the fall.

Burress' legal troubles cost him two years in his prime, and despite the layoff, he knows there are few free agents on the market with his size and resume. He won't come cheap, which could be a problem for Pittsburgh.

The Steelers began training camp about $10 million over the projected $120.4 million salary cap, and they released veterans Flozell Adams, Antwaan Randle El and Max Starks earlier in the week to trim payroll. Further cuts could be coming, and some contract restructuring is expected as the team attempts to sign young core players such as linebacker LaMarr Woodley to extensions.

"That's the thing we have to judge because we don't know where finances would be at this point," Colbert said. "Once you determine that with any player, you have to look at it like, 'OK, if we do this, it's going to cost us this, and is it worth doing it?' "

The team has time to do the math. As a free agent, Burress can't join any potential team until Aug. 4 (Thursday). If he dons the black and gold, Burress hardly would be the first former Steeler to prove you can go home again.

Pittsburgh is one of the few NFL teams that actively pursues second chances. The roster is littered with players such as quarterback Byron Leftwich and linebacker Larry Foote who went elsewhere in their careers, only to return to the Steel City.

Though he hasn't caught an NFL pass in two years, Colbert said Burress looked "great," and there was no need to put him through a lengthy workout, knowing the true test won't come until the receiver is wearing a helmet and shoulder pads.

"He missed two years of football, and until he gets back on the football field, nobody is going to know that," Colbert said. "But I don't think a workout could accurately indicate where he would be."

Vick singlehandedly electrified the Eagles when he became their starting quarterback. Burress won't be asked to do nearly as much if he signs in Pittsburgh, which has stockpiled young receivers behind Ward.

"If he can help us win another Super Bowl, I'm for it," Ward said. "We had some great years when we're together here and would definitely add some explosiveness to our already explosive receiving corps. If he's here, we'll welcome him with open arms."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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