When Plaxico Burress strolled out of prison on Monday, he not only had the chance to re-join society, but the NFL, as well. After three years behind bars, Burress is eager to jump back into the league as a free agent, adding another talented receiver to what should be a market full of them.
Once the current labor situation is resolved, and transactions are allowed once again, teams in need of an elite wideout will have their pick of the litter, as Braylon Edwards, Santonio Holmes, Sidney Rice, Chad Ochocinco, and Steve Smith — just to name a few — should be available via free agency or trade.
So where does that leave Plax?
He’s 33-years-old (34 in August), hasn’t played in the NFL since 2008, and looked to be on the decline even before shooting himself in the foot – both in a figurative and literal sense. The days of him starting atop the depth chart are behind him, but that doesn’t mean he’s totally useless. The lanky, 6’5? Burress still has much to offer — both physically and mentally — to any organization that’s willing to take him on.
Despite the obvious red flags, Burress’ natural ability would be a welcomed addition to a team in need of talent at the position.
Here’s five clubs that meet the above criteria, and may be a potential landing spot for the former Super Bowl hero.
1. Philadelphia Eagles.
While wide receiver is far from a need for Philly, they’re the one club that’s been linked to Burress the most in recent weeks. When Plaxico walked out of the Oneida Correctional Facility, he sported a Philadelphia Phillies baseball cap. Did he wear the hat because his name starts with a ‘P’, or was he trying to send some sort of subliminal message to the Eagles? Hmm.
Philadelphia has two elite talents in DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin. Barring injury, Burress would have no chance to be a starting option there. However, in three receiver sets, he would make an excellent complement to those two homerun threats, especially when they’re being double-teamed by the opposition. Not to mention, Burress and Vick share a bond: they’ve both been to prison and worked their way back into the league.
2. New York Jets.
New York is facing the prospect of losing their two best receivers — Edwards and Holmes — in free agency and will be in the market for a replacement should that occur. The Jets were said to be eyeing a stop-gap measure of sorts, with Randy Moss and Burress on their early shortlist.
Burress is obviously familiar with the Big Apple and the pressures of playing in such a big market. His size would be good for quarterback Mark Sanchez, who struggles with his accuracy at times, as a go-to target, especially in the red zone.
3. New England Patriots.
If Burress doesn’t land with the Jets, don’t discount their AFC East rival from pulling the trigger on Plax (no pun intended). Despite boasting a juggernaut offense last season, no Pats receiver is over 6’1?, which provides little productivity in jump-ball scenarios.
Coach Bill Belichick has an uncanny way of getting the most out of his players, and is known to take chances on those with previous baggage (see: Moss, Randy). Burress could add yet another element to an already deadly offense.
4. St. Louis Rams.
One of the most important aspects of developing a franchise quarterback is surrounding him with as many weapons as possible. Sam Bradford looks to be the real deal for the Rams, but the receiving talent around him is questionable at best. Names like Mark Clayton, Danny Amendola, and Donnie Avery don’t exactly instill fear in opposing defenses.
Although St. Louis has a few promising prospects, such as Mardy Gilyard and Danario Alexander, they’re in desperate need of a veteran to lend his talents to a young corps of wideouts. Burress knows what it takes to win in the NFL and his knowledge of the game is unmatched by any one of the Rams’ receivers.
5. Minnesota Vikings.
Like in the Jets case, the Vikings could possibly lose their best receiver when the lockout is lifted. Sidney Rice, an impending free agent, is looking for a lucrative contract and might not get it in Minny. If Rice departs, it would be a big blow to an offense that’s undergoing a youth movement in 2011.
Last season, the Vikings acquired Randy Moss to offset the absence of Rice, who was injured for a majority of the season. Even though the move eventually blew up in their face, it proved Minnesota was not opposed to bringing aboard a troubled veteran. Plaxico is a proven man in the NFL and the Vikings could use him to show their young offensive players the ropes. If rookie quarterback Christian Ponder wins the starting job, he’ll need a safety blanket on the field. Plax can be just that, and more.
So, now that you’ve heard my five, it’s your turn to give your best guesses.