Plaxico Burress soon to be an Eagle? Does it make sense?

Eagle killer

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:

Season Receptions Yards TD
2005 6 113 1
2005 2 37 0
2006 6 114 1
2006 6 120 0
2007 4 24 1
2007 7 136 1
2008 1 17 1
Totals 32 561 5

- 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:

Player Team Age Rec Yards TD
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.

Conclusion

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.

11 Comments

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  2. D3Keith says:

    I’m co-opting my post from BGN, but here’s my bulleted list of why it *could* work. For all the same reasons Haynesworth could.

    — We’re four deep at the position, so the player can rest easy knowing he doesn’t have to carry his unit, much less his team.

    — The team could rest easily knowing it’s not only a low-money signing, but a low-risk signing in terms of perception. Everybody knows whatever you get from those guys is gravy. Doesn’t need to be great right away or every week. Ease back into football.

    — Red zone threat. Even as a decoy, if he takes someone’s eyes off Vick or direct-snap to McCoy, Celek … whatever. He helps there.

    — After a team put its best corner on DJax, its second best on Maclin, Plax would get covered by the third guy. Maybe the Giants could match up (doubt it), but not many teams have three very good CBs.

    — This is usually something I would consider trite, as in the Eagles reclaimed Vick so they’d automatically do the same with Plax. But I think the peace of mind that he’d be treated fairly and accepted by his teammates (and ultimately the fanbase if he’s any good) and judged by the future, not the past, is a legitimate way to read the Vick implications on why we’d be attractive to Plax.

    In the end it’s all about whether Plax is humble (after jail) and hungry (to be great again in the NFL). It’s really up to him, but the environment the Eagles could provide would actually make us an attractive destination. Playing the Giants twice a year can’t hurt either.

  3. greenage says:

    Jimmy , The move would make “0″ sence. What roll would he play on the Eagles . A red Zone guy? Is that it?
    Bill Cowher didnt want him on his team. What makes you think Big Red would?
    He is going to the Red Skins. Old guy past his prime. Has Danny boys name all over him.

  4. shady lane says:

    The Eagles have an awful lot of $ already invested in the WR corps (especially if/when DeSean gets his lucrative extension). I’m all for this move if the Eagles can 1.) sign Burress cheaply and 2.) Burress can embrace a situational red-zone roll. The potential for a “jail-bird” Vick to Burress connection in the red zone would be priceless.

    1. Jim Thorpe: Athlete and a Town says:

      “Jail-Birds” …. OMG … is that what they are going to start calling us?!?! Hey Pacman, need a job?

  5. ptowny says:

    Don’t forget about the Hampton Roads connection….Plax went to school in Va Beach and Vick went in Newport News. Seems like more and more of these players are trying to get on the same teams as their friends, kinda like the Brandon Marshall and Sims-Walker situation.

  6. Alex J says:

    I think he’s more likely to end up in Washington than in Philly.

  7. bsencore says:

    Nice breakdown. That’s the way it looks to me, too.

    One interesting question is whether Plax will want to come to Philly. If he wants to make the quickest buck and get a chance to start, that won’t be with the Eagles. But if he saw the success Michael Vick had slow-playing his return…

    1. Agreed. I don’t know what kind of financial situation he’s in, either. He may HAVE to take whatever money team offers the most money, not to mention…. His agent is Drew Rosenhaus.

      1. Are you kidding me? My first comment on my own site, and I mess it up. Gah. I don’t care – I’m leaving it.

      2. bsencore says:

        True. Although that is what people were saying about Vick too coming out of jail.

        Haha — Opening day nerves?

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