Plaxico Burress: Pros and Cons in Potential Return to New York Giants

Jeff Shull@Jeff_ShullAnalyst IJune 7, 2011

ST. LOUIS, MO - SEPTEMBER 14: Plaxico Buress #17 of the New York Giants celebrates a touchdown against the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome on September 14, 2008 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Former New York Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress is the biggest—and basically the only—thing everyone around the NFL is talking about right now. Well, him and that lockout thing that's going on.

He was released from prison (wearing a Phillies hat) on Monday and the rumors are already starting to heat up as to where he might end up.

His agent, Drew Rosenhaus, reiterated Burress' intent to return to football and that his client will not be without suitors, nor will he rule out any options.

He specifically mentioned the Giants as one of those options.

With that in mind, let's look at the pros and cons in a potential return for the former Super Bowl hero.

The cons are pretty simple. Can Burress even still play at a high level? Having not played in an NFL game for nearly three years when the regular season starts should raise some eyebrows.

Was he allowed to stay in shape in prison? Is he mentally ready to get back to what he did best? How much will his age be a factor?

This is where the argument against the Michael Vick comparison comes in. Burress has seemingly benefited from the resurgence of Vick as an elite player since he went through pretty much the same as Burress did, but that comes with a caveat.

Vick was given that year behind Donovan McNabb to not only regain the speed we all remember from the highlight reels, but he learned how to be a better pocket passer and is now a better QB than he ever was in Atlanta.

Burress doesn't have anything like that to change in his game to make him a better player, which means when he gets back to playing at 34 years old, all he will have to go on is his physical ability. Is that even still there? Vick was 29 when he returned to the NFL, that five-year difference is huge in NFL years.

If a team needs Burress to contribute right away, are we even sure he can do that? Burress doesn't have the same luxury of playing behind someone and being patient like Vick did, if he waits a year to be productive he will be 35 and running out of time.

Not only all of that, but if he is going to be signed he will have to show an attitude adjustment. In his days with the Giants and Steelers he was known to be a bit of a headache for head coaches. We all know he has served his time and is a changed man in society's eyes, but will that translate to an NFL locker room?

Also, I am pretty confident in saying that no team will sign him to be their No. 1 receiver, so we don't know how Burress will handle playing in a more reserve role when he had gotten so used to being the first target. That's a hard pill to swallow.

However, the fact remains that Burress was a terrifying weapon to a defense, he made everyone in the huddle around him better just by being on the field. His 6'5'' height and big frame was almost impossible to stop and teams had to focus their game plans in an attempt to slow him down.

Although Vick did have that extra full year to learn behind McNabb, it's no secret the QB position is more complicated and the learning curve for Burress coming back won't be as high.

His football I.Q. and instincts will not have left him; the only thing he will need to work on is his playing speed, which wasn't his best weapon to begin with.

A return to the Giants would make them one of the most devastating offensive units in the NFL, if he can still play of course. The Giants already have a top wide receiving corps and the addition of Burress could make them No. 1.

Again I must point to the fact that Steve Smith is likely going to miss the first few weeks of the season. What better way to replace him than with a receiver who lined up beside him?

The question of whether Burress would be welcomed back by his teammates is not even a question any longer. Brandon Jacobs, Osi Umenyiora, Eli Manning, and Justin Tuck have all said they would love for him to join them in their quest for another title. 

Jacobs seems to be back and forth on the issue of Burress' return, stating last Thursday that there is "no chance" he comes back but backing off that statement this week and not ruling it out.

"I mean, I think there’s a chance the Giants, I mean, I know they probably want him back," Jacobs said according to ESPN New York's Ohm Youngmisuk. "But with him having more options to pick from, I don’t know how that’s going to work out."

He definitely does have options, and the most likely of them dreadfully being the Eagles. If you remember, Burress was an Eagle killer—especially in their stadium. The Giants were 6-2 against the Eagles with him and have gone 0-6 without him.

If he played so well against them, how good will he be with them and that incredibly explosive offense they already have. The only piece they are truly missing is a big bodied possession receiver who can be an end zone threat.

Seems the perfect fit, no?

Hopefully I'm wrong, but the more I think about it the more I'm inclined to believe a return to the Giants is the best thing for both parties. It may take some time, but with production the fans will forgive him for what he's done.

It seems like a no-brainer on the Giants' part, hopefully Burress is thinking the same thing. If you listen to Jacobs though, who has been in contact with Burress several times, it doesn't seem to be in the cards.

Only time will tell.


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