Before Plaxico Burress packed up and headed home at the end of last season, he sat down with Steelers' Coach Mike Tomlin and General Manager Kevin Colbert and made it clear that he wanted to be back for the 2013 season. Burress, who was set to become a free agent, had no desire to go elsewhere.
"I told them Pittsburgh was the only place I wanted to be," said Burress. "When I came in last year I thought I was in good shape for the time frame I was there. All I wanted this year was an opportunity to get into minicamp and training camp and start to get myself back into real football shape along with everyone else."
On Tuesday, the Steelers re-signed Burress just before the start of free agency, keeping the 6-5 receiver as a big target for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
"I get to come back and play with Ben and everyone there," said Burress. "I am definitely excited. It's beautiful. I was telling my wife it's great that I know where I am going to be now. It's a big stress reliever. We know where we are going to be. She is happy, her family is excited. She gets to go back to Pittsburgh, which is where she is from. We can start making plans for what we want to do.
"For me to get off the board the first day of free agency I think it says a lot about the Steelers and what kind of role they have in mind for me. I want to go in and have fun and fulfill it. I am happy to be back. This is where I wanted to be. I couldn't ask for more."
Burress doesn't know yet what his role in the offense will be, something he plans on talking to the coaches about in the next few weeks. But with Mike Wallace signing as a free agent with the Miami Dolphins, Burress has his sights set high.
"I am going to approach it like I am going to be a starter," said Burress. "I am going to work my tail off and see what happens. I am putting it out there for everybody to know."
Burress, the Steelers first round draft choice in 2000, played five seasons with the team before signing with the New York Giants as a free agent in 2005. He played four seasons with the Giants, before his career was interrupted when he was suspended by the NFL after a felony weapon possession charge. After he was reinstated by the NFL in June, 2011, he signed a one-year deal with the New York Jets. Burress became a free agent again after that season, and didn't land with a team until the Steelers signed him on Nov. 20, 2012, bringing him back to where his career started.
Burress didn't see much playing time last year after coming in late, finishing with only three receptions for 42 yards and a touchdown. He is looking forward to a full offseason with the team to prepare, get comfortable in the offense and make sure he is a force.
"It's going to help tremendously," said Burress. "For me to be able to get in and really nail down the offense and get a concept of it and what they expect and what my role is going to be. When you are working toward something, and know what you are working for, you work harder and it makes it easier."
Burress is the third player the Steelers have signed this offseason who started their career in Pittsburgh and went elsewhere at some point, only to eventually return. Like the other two, cornerback William Gay and linebacker Larry Foote, he didn't fully realize what he had in Pittsburgh until he left.
"It's a special place," said Burress. "From the owners on down they create an atmosphere that can't be duplicated. It's within the building. It's been that way as long as I can remember. It's everyone in the building. It's the foundation. It's special.
"You don't get to be around an organization or teammates like the Steelers other places around the NFL. That is one of the first things I noticed when I left and went to New York. Sometimes you want to embark on bigger and better things and go to the big city. I did that. There are pros and cons of every situation. I am back because I love it in Pittsburgh. When you leave you realize how special a place it really is."