The Eagles offense was not the problem last season. With the play of Mike Vick they become one of the most explosive and most feared offenses in the league. Last season, they were 2nd in the NFL in yards per game, 3rd in points per game and 9th in passing yards per game. Maclin was tied for 7th in the NFL in receiving touchdowns and DeSean Jackson earned his 2nd straight Pro Bowl selection. The Birds also have one of the best and most consistent slot WR in Jason Avant and rookie Riley Cooper showed some flashes of being a solid player. So you might make the observation that WR isn’t a position of need for this team, but we have recently heard some whispers that they might be interested in a certain free agent wide receiver.
Most of the Eagles related talk over the last few months has mainly been between the trading of current backup QB Kevin Kolb and the likelihood of signing free agent cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha. Earlier this week, Gary Myers of the New York Daily News reported that the Eagles would be “first in line” for Plaxico Burress. He is scheduled to be released from Oneida Correctional Facility on June 6 for charges stemming from the incident where his own gun discharged wounding him in the thigh. Burress had a concealed weapons permit for the gun but the permit wasn’t for New York.
The 6’5” wide receiver was a problem for the Eagles while he was a member of the New York Giants. They were never able to deal with his size and always had to commit two defenders to him. They have played the Giants and their WR’s a lot better since his departure. The old saying goes, if you can’t beat em, join em. And it looks like that is exactly what they might try to do. Burress would go a long way in solving their red zone problems. A lot of Eagle fans have been clamoring for a big WR ever since the debacle that was Billy McMullen. Maclin and Jackson have as much speed and athleticism as any duo in the NFL, but it can be neutralized when the field is shortened in the red zone.
Burress is a former 8th overall pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers. He spent 5 seasons with Pittsburgh and collected a pair of 1,000 yard season before he signed a FA contract with the New York Giants. In his last 2 full seasons as a member of the Giants, he scored 22 touchdowns in just 31 games. Over his career, he has 7,845 receiving yards on 505 receptions and 55 receiving touchdowns. He has always had the talent and size to dominate in the NFL but he hasn’t always lived up to that potential. Burress has also had some off the field issues outside of current charges and hasn’t always been seen as a great teammate.
Many people have pointed to the Eagles signing of Michael Vick following his prison sentence as proof that the Eagles don’t’ mind taking a chance on a player with a troubled past. But the real question is, what Plaxico will do on the football field after spending nearly 2 years in prison. In Vick’s first season back in the league in 09’, he had noticeably lost a step and it took him a year to regain it. Burress isn’t a young man any more either; he will turn 34 in August. But Burress can be productive even if he is a step slower because of his size. The Eagles would not count on him to stretch the defense; his job would just be mainly just to make the red zone offense more efficient.
It has been a very quiet offseason for NFL teams and their fans, basically because there hasn’t been a offseason. The NFL Lockout 2011 is about to hit day 75 and as the weeks turn to months, the optimism that most fans had about a 2011 season is beginning to fade. When the lockout started 75 days ago, I thought there wasn’t a chance that we would miss a game. But right now, I honestly have no idea. The lockout will last until at least June 3rd, when the owners appeal will be heard. If the owners win the appeal, the lockout will remain in place indefinitely. But the lockout will have to end at some point and there is no doubt that the Eagles will be very active when that happens.
Will they decide to go after Burress when that happens? No one really knows. They have always been a team who is very quiet of their intentions, so their “interest” in Plaxico could just be a smoke screen. If you have learned anything about Andy Reid over the last 10 years, it is that you can never believe what you are told and expect the unexpected. I would think they would be very cautious about bringing in Burress because of the negative influence he could have on their young WR’s. But if can play at the level he did prior to his prison sentence, he is a dominate player. Sometimes you have to take a chance on a player if you want to win championships. In the end if Burress helps the Eagles win games, I don’t think there will be many in Philadelphia who would have a problem with him or his past.