Las Vegas bookies will lay odds on just about anything and now they’re taking bets on where Plaxico Burress will play football next NFL season (assuming there is one). And those bookies have made the Eagles the 3-2 favorite to sign the talented-but-troubled wide receiver.
Well, the Eagles may be the house favorite, but don’t bet the house that Burress will be catching footballs from Michael Vick next season (assuming there is one).
As soon as Burress was released from prison on Monday – he served almost two years after a 2008 incident in which a gun in his pocket accidently discharged in a New York nightclub – the conjecture started about where he will play in 2011. His old team, the Giants, released him last year and Burress is an unrestricted free agent who can sign with any team, at any time, once the current labor problems get settled (assuming they do).
And when people started making lists of possible destinations for Burress, most of them put the Eagles at the top, even though nobody associated with the team has publicly said a word about him.
There are several reasons why people believe Burress is headed to the Eagles:
- They need a tall and tough receiver in the red zone, somebody who can out-jump or out-muscle smaller defensive backs in tight spaces.
- Eagles quarterback Michael Vick said he’d like to play with Burress and help him stay on the road to redemption.
- Former teammate Brandon Jacobs, one of Burress’ closest friends on the Giants, said he believes Burress will sign with the Eagles.
- Burress walked out of prison on Monday wearing a Phillies cap.
On the flip side, here is why some people believe Burress isn’t headed to the Eagles:
- It’s a dumb idea.
OK, that was simplistic. And there’s no denying that the people who want the Eagles to sign Burress make a compelling argument. But it’s still a dumb idea.
For one thing, the Eagles have plenty of other needs to address before next season starts (assuming it does) and while wide receiver used to be a priority, it no longer is. The Eagles have a young and talented corps of receivers and they believe Riley Cooper, who will be entering his second NFL season (assuming there is one), can be the big, physical receiver they need in the end zone.
If they do have money to throw at a free agent they should toss it in the direction of cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, who is in his prime and plays a position where they need lots of help. Heck, they even need a decent backup quarterback more than another wide receiver since it seems a foregone conclusion that Kevin Kolb will eventually be traded.
Plus the Eagles already have a wide receiver with whom they have to negotiate. DeSean Jackson, who played in the last two Pro Bowls (which is two more than Burress has ever played in), is looking for a contract extension and that’s where the Eagles will spend their wide receiver dollars.
Besides, Burress can be trouble even when he’s not carrying a loaded weapon in a public place. He’s played for two NFL teams, the Steelers and Giants, and both suspended him at one time for missing practices and, in general, being a jerk.
Now, the Eagles might be willing to overlook those character flaws if Burress was 24, but he’ll be 34 in August and hasn’t played in two years, so his hamstrings could explode at any minute. With the players currently locked out from NFL facilities and facing the very real possibility that the lockout could push back the start of training camp, he probably won’t be able to work with his new team until just before the season starts (assuming it does).
Finally, Andy Reid gets rid of players over 30 – he doesn’t recruit them and then give them a lot of money.
On the other hand, Reid has seen first-hand what Burress’ size can mean, especially in the end zone. After Burress joined the Giants in 2005 he played against Reid’s Eagles eight times and caught 37 passes for 650 yards – an average of 17.5 yards per reception – and seven touchdowns.
And there’s a good chance Reid was sitting in front of his television set when Burress caught the winning touchdown pass in the Giants’ stunning upset of New England in Super Bowl XLII.
So, as he does with everything, Reid will consider the pros and cons of signing Burress. Then he will decide he already has enough headaches without adding another, especially since this one has the potential to turn into a migraine.