Yahoo Sports yesterday, published a report that the Buccaneers were one of two teams to contact Plaxico Burress this week. The Yahoo report describes the phone call as exploratory and was mainly to “check on Burress’ well being.” The checking in on his well being part is quite laughable, but we’ll for this excercise take the phone call as a serious inquiry into signing Burress.
First and foremost, the legal issues that Plaxico faces from gun charges in NY are the most important factor in any team signing him, the Bucs or anyone else for that matter. I have read lately that his lawyers are trying to reach a plea deal with the district attorney’s office. Let us also assume for this that Plaxico ends up with a probation and community service type of plea bargain and serves no actual jail time.
Regardless of his eventual deal with the state/district attorney’s office, Plax is almost certain to face some punishment from Commisioner Roger Goodell. Burress is most likely looking at somewhere in between 4 and 8 games. Let’s say he ends up with an 8 game suspension, stays on good behavior and gets his suspension cut to 6 games.
The availability of a player who had such an impact on a team winning the Super Bowl two years ago is something that every team would be looking at if Burress wasn’t such a head case. He is though, and that is something that every team, including the Bucs would need to take into consideration if they were to sign him. His production on the field though, can not be disputed. In 3 full seasons with the NY Giants, him and Eli Manning connected for 29 touchdowns. Everyone just assumed that Eli Manning had become a great quarterback during this time, but with Burress out last year, Manning looked average, and in my opinion, that’s is just what he is. Burress ability to stretch the defense vertically on go routes, run routes to perfection, catch just about anything thrown his way and mostly his ability to be a huge redzone target was key to the so called “progression” of Eli Manning.
If the Bucs plan is to let Luke McCown or Byron Leftwich handle the QB duties this year while rookie Josh Freeman learns the ropes, than signing Burress to me seems to be a no brainer. The tandem of Antonio Bryant and Burress coupled with the arm strength of both McCown and Leftwich would make our offense downright scary. Add in the deep running back corps, Kellen Winslow and our young impressive line, and the Bucs would have the chance to be a top tier offensive team. I think everyone is overexaggerating the loss of the older players on our defense, because if I remember correctly, most of the pundits felt this was our downfall defensively last season. We have old guys and we are too old, we get rid of them, and now most people think we have no defense. Our secondary is one of the young bright secondaries in the league. Barrett Ruud, Quincy Black/Angelo Crowell and Jermaine Phillips/Geno Hayes is a more than competent group of linebackers and if the defensive line can get some more pressure on the QB we have the chance to be as good as we have at any point during the last decade. People forget that until we lost to the Panthers in Week 14, the Bucs were the number 2 ranked defense in the league.
On the other hand, if the plan is for Freeman to play, I think this would be a terrible signing by us. I loved how Antonio Bryant behaved last year, but the combination of Bryant, Winslow and Burress is a frightening thought for me in regards to a rookie QB and his psyche. Three guys who demand the ball and aren’t afraid to act out when they don’t get their way isn’t really the way you want to “raise” a quarterback in this league.
It’s an interesting pickle for our team in all honesty, and one if it were to happen, will probably tell you the direction in which the front office and the new coaching staff feel this team is headed for the upcoming season.