Watching Plaxico Burress walk out of New York’s Oneida Correctional Facility on Monday reminded me of how good he would look in a Bears uniform.
After serving two years on a gun charge, the former Giants receiver is looking to resurrect his career. He should be highly motivated, which lessens the risk for teams. The successful rehabilitation of Eagles quarterback Michael Vick may make teams such as the Bears more willing to give Burress a second chance.
“He’s learned an awful lot,” agent Drew Rosenhaus told reporters Monday. “He knows that he obviously made a mistake and certainly the maturation from being in this type of environment for so many months to reflect on your life and the things you might do differently. To miss two NFL seasons in the prime of your career, to not be with your family, most importantly, to lose out on millions and millions of dollars — these are things that have forced him certainly to evaluate his life and we all would become a better person.”
Although Bears general manager Jerry Angelo often downplays the importance of a bigger receiver, the sputtering Bears offense could use somebody with Burresses’ skill set. The Bears don’t have a proven receiver on the roster over 6-foot. At 6-5, 232, Burress has — or at least had — the type of height and body control that could make life easier for Jay Cutler.
“We’re looking at the position,” Angelo said before passing on a receiver in the draft. “We’d like to get the big receiver like everybody. So much has been made about the No. 1 receiver. It’s hard to find a No. 1 receiver. We’ve looked at the position hard this year. I don’t anticipate that we, collectively as a group, see anybody that’s going to fit that definition. But we do like the [rookie] receiver group given how they complement what we have. We looked at it in depth. It’s not a great group, but there are some players there that we like that we feel can come in and help us.”
The Bears have been hesitant to reach for players with character issues, and for good reason, although Angelo seem to leave the door cracked in that regard.
“Again, we’re not looking for best friends or neighbors,” Angelo said before the draft. “We’re looking for guys who get it, to come in here with good attitudes, good work ethics, and are very passionate about football. If they have those things in common, I personally can get along with him, especially if he has talent.”
Before the draft, Angelo said having a Pro Bowl-caliber receiver isn’t a requirement for a Super Bowl winner.
“I don’t think the Giants have ever had a Pro Bowl receiver, at least in the last 20 years,” he said. “They’ve always had a pretty good offense. I know when we were in Tampa, I know our offense wasn’t stellar. But I don’t want to overrate the position. We certainly like our receiver corps. We certainly want to build on it. But that’s not the end all.”
While that may be technically true, the Giants had Burress when they won the Super Bowl. They had Amani Toomer, who played at a very high level for 13 years. They currently have Steve Smith and Hakeem Nicks.
The Bears have some promising players at the position, no question. Pro Football Focus recently revealed that Earl Bennett did not drop a single pass last season, making him one of the surest-handed receivers in the league. Johnny Knox finished just shy of 1,000 receiving yards in 2010 and Devin Hester remains a home run threat.
The problem is, at least in my opinion, the Bears receivers are too much alike. They do need a bigger target for Cutler, especially in third-down situations. CFL star Andy Fantuz might be the guy. At 6-6, 220 he doesn’t have great speed but has great hands. If they can get him for the right price, adding Burress to the mix would make sense as well.
“I wouldn’t rule out any team, I wouldn’t rule out the Giants, I wouldn’t rule out any club,” Rosenhaus said. “I really won’t talk about specific teams because I don’t want to hurt his position. As far as the Giants, my personal opinion is he wouldn’t rule them out. I certainly wouldn’t.
“We are going to be open to all 32 teams,” Rosenhaus added. “Ultimately this will be Plax’s decision, not mine. I am here to help him pick the best spot and get the very best contract. And that is what we will do.”