Up For Debate: Should the Tampa Bay Bucs Pursue Plaxico Burress?

Michael McGuffeeCorrespondent IMay 29, 2009

GLENDALE, AZ - NOVEMBER 23:  Wide receiver Plaxico Burress #17 of the New York Giants warms up for the game with the Arizona Cardinals on November 23, 2008 at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. The Giants won 37-29.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

From Super Bowl MVP to troublemaker cut loose, Plaxico Burress’ stock has taken quite a tumble over the past two seasons.

And it had nothing to do with the economy.

Burress faces felony gun charges after he shot himself in the thigh at a New York nightclub with an unlicensed firearm in November of 2008.

Burress was suspended by the Giants as a result, and did not play in the team’s last five games of the 2008 season—four of which were losses in Burress’ absence.

The Giants, who were willing to put up with Burress being late to meetings and skipping the occasional practice, released Burress this off-season amidst his more serious legal problems.

Burress’ pending gun charges could land him a jail sentence of three and a half years, and his court date is scheduled in June.

Despite the baggage, however, Burress’ agent Drew Rosenhaus says two teams have reached out to Burress about his status this off-season. While Rosenhaus wouldn’t name names, NFL.com reports that those teams are the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the New York Jets

So the question looms: Is he worth the risk?

The Bucs have taken chances on a couple guys with character question marks lately, including tight ends Jerramy Stevens and Kellen Winslow.

At 6’5” and 232 pounds, Burress would give the Bucs another big physical receiver and an impact player in the red zone.

Burress accounted for 12 touchdowns and 1,025 receiving yards in 2007 despite playing through a lingering ankle injury.

While Burress is certainly an intriguing pick up, and a player I would definitely keep an eye on, he probably isn’t a good gamble at this point for first-year Tampa Bay head coach Raheem Morris who’s got enough on his plate this season.

Then, of course, would be the issue of Burress’ contract.

The Bucs already handed receiver Michael Clayton a high-priced—and many say undeserved—contract extension with the anticipation that he will start opposite Antonio Bryant this season.

The team is also paying Winslow a hefty chunk of change, and middle linebacker Barrett Ruud is still in need of a much-deserved raise.

Details aside, however, I don’t blame the Bucs for reaching out to Burress.

I’m actually pleased to hear they are actively exploring possibilities to make this team better.

If I were the Bucs, I would shy away from this high-risk, high-reward project until Burress and his attorneys make some headway with his legal issues.

But by all means, feel free to keep the phone lines open.