Posted by Ryan Wilson
The headline on Matt Bowen's NationalFootballPost.com post says it all: "Do we need to slow down the talk on Plaxico?"
Yes, we probably do. Since Plaxico Burress was released from prison last week the discussion has been more about potential landing spots than concerns that, you know, he might not have much left in the tank.
That's not to say issues haven't been raised -- they have -- just that the conversation usually turns to the most recent jailhouse-to-penthouse success story: Michael Vick. There's no denying Vick's impact on the Eagles last season, and there were plenty of skeptics when the team signed him.
But Vick's the exception -- and exceptionally gifted.
Before Burress' stint upstate, he was known for being tall, not for his athleticism. Two years removed from an actual NFL game, Plax is still tall but he's probably lost a step, too. Bowen admits that "I like the idea of Plaxico Burress aligned as the X receiver in my offense on 3rd and medium (think 3-step passing game) and in the red zone where you can throw the slant and the fade on the goal line."
But after talking to NFL coaches and scouts, Bowen found that "[T]here isn’t an overwhelming amount of desire from what I am hearing to run out and bring this guy in once the lockout is lifted. If anything, more questions than answers on what Plax can provide to your roster in 2011."
And an NFC coach told Bowen that he thought Burress would be "close to average," adding that he was never a great route runner, just a product of the Giants' offensive system.
One of the great ironies is that people talk about Plax's red-zone potential, especially on goal-line fade routes and jump balls. The fact that he excelled at neither during his five-year career in Pittsburgh infuriated fans, and his drop of an end-zone touchdown pass in the AFC Championship game against the Patriots in January 2005 pretty much solidified that belief. Of course, Burress made the biggest catch in recent Giants history -- an end zone grab over Patriots cornerback Ellis Hobbs in the Super Bowl -- so maybe it's now part of his repertoire.
Either way, given the tepid response to Burress leads us to believe that Bowen's right: There won't be much of a market for him. Then again, maybe it's pre-free agency posturing by teams jockeying for position to sign Plax, though, honestly, we doubt it. It's more likely the case that coaches and general managers legitimately aren't that interested in a 34-year-old player who hasn't seen the field since 2008.
But as Bowen points out: We'll keep talking about it because it's June and we're in the middle of a labor dispute. There's not much else going on.
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