Plaxico Burress Is Back: 5 Teams That Could Use Former New York Giants Receiver
Former Super Bowl hero Plaxico Burress was released from jail today after spending just over 20 months behind bars serving a gun charge. Whether you agreed with his incarceration or not, there's no denying the opportunity he's now presented with.
Burress is rumored to have dropped 20 pounds in prison while working out four days a week and despite his advanced age—he turns 34 in August—there are plenty of reasons for NFL teams to take a chance on Burress.
The Eagles were rewarded handsomely after taking a risk on Michael Vick and it can be argued that Burress, while bringing less upside as an aging receiver, is also less risky. Many people will always be against Vick for his crimes, while many think Burress got an unfair prison sentence for something stupid, but not horrifyingly criminal.
There are plenty of teams across the NFL that could use a big target like Burress, but some destinations just make more sense than others.
5. Tennessee Titans
The Titans already have a tall top target in Kenny Britt but like Burress, Britt has had legal issues of his own. Would that stop the Titans from taking a flier on Plax?
Jake Locker could be on the field sooner rather than later and it would be a prudent move for Tennessee to give him two towering receivers to bail him out of bad situations, which he should find himself in often as a raw rookie.
Even if Kerry Collins starts, adding Burress would be a big upgrade for the Titans over the likes of Nate Washington and Justin Gage, since Randy Moss was a bust last season.
4. Cleveland Browns
As Julio Jones moved up draft boards in April, many experts thought the Browns would pick him sixth overall. Instead, Atlanta made an offer that Cleveland couldn't refuse and jumped up to draft Jones, leaving the Browns to take a flier on North Carolina receiver Greg Little, who could be this season's Mike Williams or a complete bust.
Going into his first full season as the Browns starter, quarterback Colt McCoy could use some help at receiver, where his top targets include Little, Mohamed Massaquoi, Brian Robiskie and tight ends Evan Moore and Ben Watson.
Burress would provide McCoy with a nice safety valve on short and mid-range passes, while his lack of downfield ability wouldn't have much negative effect on the weak-armed McCoy.
I haven't heard many people placing Burress with the Browns at this point, but I think it's a good marriage. I just think Burress would much rather play for a contender, like the three teams ahead of Cleveland on this list.
3. New York Jets
This placement relies heavily on what the Jets do with their free-agent wide receivers, which we won't know until the end of the lockout. With Santonio Holmes, Braylon Edwards and Brad Smith all scheduled to hit the open market, the Jets can't afford to sign all three along with their other free agents.
Drafting Jeremy Kerley almost assuredly signals the end of Smith's tenure in New York, but both Holmes and Edwards want to stay and the team has expressed interest in keeping both. If they do, a Burress signing is unlikely, although he would come cheap and give Mark Sanchez a second jump-ball target alongside Edwards.
Most people around the league think the Jets will only be able to keep one of Holmes and Edwards and the prevailing opinion is that Holmes is the better choice, which I agree with—especially considering you could plug Burress into Edwards' spot in the lineup and lose only the ability to get open downfield.
Trading for Holmes and Antonio Cromartie last season proved the Jets are willing to go after players with baggage issues, which makes them a definite contender in the Burress sweepstakes.
2. Philadelphia Eagles
Everybody is making this comparison thanks to the success of Michael Vick's return last season, but there's some merit to it from a football perspective as well.
Philadelphia has solid receivers in DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, but both are smaller, speedy receivers who can stretch the field. Burress is exactly the type of receiver the Eagles lack: a possession guy who can succeed underneath and in the middle of the field.
You can never have too much talent at the wide receiver position in the NFL, especially in Andy Reid's pass-happy system. With LeSean McCoy entrenched as Philadephia's starting running back, they will never be a run-heavy team. Teams that rely on the pass and their quarterback as much as the Eagles definitely have room for three good receivers.
You can't discount the experience the organization has gotten from the Vick situation either. There is precedent for a move like this in Philadelphia and I would not be one bit surprised if we see Vick throwing passes to Burress if the 2011 season is played.
1. St. Louis Rams
Many early mock drafts had Julio Jones falling to the Rams in the middle of the Round 1. But Jones' stock rose as the draft neared, while the Rams were unable to fill their need for a No. 1 receiver to accelerate Sam Bradford's development.
While Burress was never a burner, Bradford isn't a quarterback who looks to air it out deep anyway. Bradford was extremely accurate as a rookie last season and should be able to throw balls up where only Burress can make the catch.
Like every team in the NFC West, St. Louis is one piece away from being the class of that division. Burress could very easily be that piece. And with former Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo as their head coach, rumors will continue to fly about the Rams signing Burress.