Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Free To Wait

On Monday morning, June 6, WR Plaxico Burress was released from Oneida Correctional Facility, located in Rome, New York (roughly 450 miles northwest of New York City). He just completed 20 months of a two year sentence, and wants to return to playing the game he loves. He dawned a Philadelphia Phillies baseball cap upon leaving the prison grounds, perhaps not so subliminally telling the world where he wants to play next.
                                                         Plaxico Burress
Teaming up with a fellow convict in Philly would add to the story of both Burress, and of former dog killer Michael Vick, and add a big target for the QB in the red zone. The Eagles don't have a regular receiver above six feet tall to rely on deep in opposing territory. Riley Cooper is the exception, at 6-3, but I said "regular", as in a top three target.

There are many questions about Burress coming out of prison. Is he in shape? How much has he slowed down after being away from the game? And to me, his physical abilities are not the issue. The only issue going forward is how quickly the players and owners can decide on a CBA so that Mr. Burress can sign with a team. He is going to be the most motivated player since Vick last year once a team takes a gamble on him. He has more to prove than anyone going into this season, and is eager to get started.

So now it does become a waiting game. In the mean time, we can speculate all we want on the right fit for Burress, and the need that certain teams have for a receiver of his size and experience. He will be 34 in August, and some "experts" have said that's a problem. However, his two years behind bars should have him pretty fresh, I would think. That was the question two years ago after Vick was released from prison, and all he did was get better. I don't think you'll find an analyst out there who will say Vick didn't improve as an all around quarterback since his arrest.
                                                          Michael Vick
We now begin the speculation on where Burress could wind up. My thought is that yes, he wants to be an Eagle, and that may be the best fit for all parties considered. There are also a handful of teams that need an upgrade in a hurry, and could land the 6-5 receiver if they are able to sell him and super agent Drew Rosenhaus, who says his client has dropped 15 pounds and is "stronger, healthier, and faster than he's ever been".

If that turns out to be true, the list of interested teams would increase sevenfold. He was a menace over the middle and in the red zone before being incarcerated, and to add speed to the equation would mean that Burress could jump right back into the role of being an elite receiver in this league. He would be wise to stage a field day of sorts -as top overall pick in 2011's draft Cam Newton did- to hype his abilities. Maybe run some routes, run the 40 yard dash, and lift his shirt to show everyone that he's no longer packing heat (I would find that hilarious).
                                                         Drew Rosenhaus
In addition to the Eagles, the St. Louis Rams would also be a good option for Plax. They have an imperative need for a top flight wide out, and have the golden armed Sam Bradford to throw to him. If I were Rams head coach Steve Spagnuolo, I would sell the weak secondaries of the NFC West to Burress and Rosenhaus, and put Bradford on a throne with a crown on his head. Bradford put up very good numbers as a rookie, and his offense is meager to say the least. The offense would benefit wonderfully with the presence of Burress. Spagnuolo also spent some time in New York in 2007-08 as the Linebackers Coach, so they have the connection of knowing each other already.

Also in need, the Cleveland Browns may come calling. They have a pretty decent package to offer him as well, what with the stellar running game, and a good offensive line to protect whomever will be the signal caller. It will most likely be Colt McCoy, who performed fairly well also, in comparison to fellow rookie Bradford. He completed 60 percent of his passes, but only tossed six touchdowns. The upgrade to the group of receivers would surely improve their chances in the defense-heavy AFC North. I haven't heard any analysts mention Cleveland to this point, but we're only in the early stages of estimation, so we will see how this option pans out. Keep your ears up, Dawg Pound.

I'll give you all one more possibility for now, as I see it, and this one may be a stretch. The New England Patriots. His style of play -especially if he's faster than before- is perfect for Tom Brady and company. They love to spread the field, and while it remains to be seen whether he can be a deep threat, his big frame is suited well for Brady's play calling. Brady may throw over the middle more than anyone in football, where -as was stated earlier- Burress excels. Like the Eagles, the Patriots lack a big body in their core of receivers. Brandon Tate, at 6-1 and 195 pounds, is their biggest target spread out wide. This option scares me, and I truly hope he doesn't end up in Foxborough. That's all Brady needs is another ring.