Gary Myers of the New York Post reported “I’ve heard that the Eagles will eventually be first in line” to sign Plaxico Burress whenever free agency resumes. It’s unclear whether Myers is purely speculating on this, or whether he actually has concrete information to support the claim. Regardless, let’s take a look at how it makes sense (and doesn’t make sense) for the Eagles to take a run at Burress.
Why it makes sense:
- Plaxico Burress destroyed the Eagles as a New York Giant. The Giants haven’t been beaten the Eagles since Burress has been gone, which might be more than just a coincidence. When a player has the kind of success that Burress had against the Eagles, it’s only natural to be intrigued by the idea of bringing that player aboard. Here are Plax’s numbers against Philly:
- Burress turns 34 years of age in August. However, being an old WR and an old RB isn’t quite the same. Here is a quick list of NFL wide receivers at or around Burress’ age that were starters at the beginning of the 2010 season, and how they fared last season statistically (ages are as of Sept. 12, 2010, or opening day last season). The numbers aren’t spectacular, but they do at least indicate that receivers can still be productive late in their NFL careers:
|Terrell Owens||Bengals||36 years, 9 months, 5 days||72||983||9|
|Derrick Mason||Ravens||36 years, 7 months, 26 days||61||802||7|
|Donald Driver||Packers||35 years, 7 months, 10 days||51||565||4|
|Hines Ward||Steelers||34 years, 6 months, 4 days||59||755||5|
|Randy Moss||Patriots/Vikings/Titans||33 years, 6 months, 30 days||28||393||5|
|Chad Ochocinco||Bengals||32 years, 8 months, 3 days||67||831||4|
- Burress brings a skill set that is currently missing from the Eagles’ offense. Due to the dynamics that Michael Vick brings to the Eagles’ offense, they were improved in the red zone in 2010, but certainly have room to get better. Burress, at 6’5, would provide Vick with a potential matchup nightmare on the outside to go along with the mix of shrimpy speedy guys.
(cont after the jump)
Why it doesn’t make sense:
- As noted above, Plaxico Burress will be 34 years old in August. While there are receivers still contributing at Plax’s age, there will rightfully be concerns about how much he can contribute after being away from football for the past two seasons. By comparison, Michael Vick was only moderately effective (being generous) in his limited action his first year back from two years of jail. It took him a year to get his sea legs. I would have to imagine that the difficulty level of returning to the NFL after two years is a much more difficult task as a QB than it is as a WR, but it’s still a valid concern. If it takes him a year to get back to something close to what he was before he shot himself, he’ll be 35 by then. The Eagles historically stay far, far away from aging vets.
- The Eagles are loaded at WR. DeSean Jackson. Jeremy Maclin. Jason Avant. That’s an excellent trio of receivers. Add in promising second year player Riley Cooper and you have an elite group of young, talented receivers. Typically, you want your receivers that don’t start to play special teams. First, Plax will not be playing special teams. Second, will he embrace a much less significant role than the one he had in New York?
- Baggage. I don’t put as much stock in Plaxico’s past as others do. Frankly, I find it truly absurd that the man went to jail for this long for shooting himself in the leg. Still, the Eagles tend to shy away from locker room distraction types. I don’t know if that’s what Plaxico Burress is, but it’s worth noting I suppose. The other side of that coin is that the Eagles could feel that with such a strong locker room in place, they can take a calculated risk on a guy with Plax’s level of talent.
Plaxico Burress was a great NFL wide receiver. Perhaps even top 10 in the league in his prime. If the Eagles think he’s willing to take on a smaller role, I see much more upside than downside. I’ve always sided on doing the calculated aggressive move over being over-cautious. In the end, it always comes down to money. If the money is reasonable, I think it’s an aggressive move worth pursuing.