Unless you are living under a rock, you know that former Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress was released from prison in upstate New York yesterday after serving nearly two years for gun charges stemming from his self-inflicted gunshot wound he sustained in a Manhattan night club in 2008. Of course, this means one thing - it's time for the rumors to start swirling.
Moments after Burress was released from prison, his agent Drew Rosenhaus made it known that every team is in play. "We are going to be open to all 32 teams," Rosenhaus told the assembled media. "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."
Right off the bat, the Miami Dolphins are one of the teams that people are trying to connect Plaxico to. ESPN's Adam Schefter said yesterday morning that Miami would make sense for Burress, citing their need for insurance as the league continues to monitor the Brandon Marshall situation. Schefter actually lists the Dolphins as one of the top three most likely suitors for Plaxico's services.
So the question many fans are debating today is whether or not the Dolphins should make a play for Plaxico once the lockout finally comes to a close. And it's a very interesting question that will not be as easily answered as some might think.
On one hand, the Dolphins have more pressing needs than another receiver. Their current receiving corps is pretty good as it stands today after the addition of the much needed deep threat known as Edmond Gates, who was selected in April's NFL Draft. So the money that the Dolphins will have available might be better used elsewhere to fill some of the voids this roster has.
There are also the obvious "character concerns" that will obviously follow Burress around wherever he goes. He's one of the many receivers who can be the stereotypical "diva" at times. And he obviously has some very poor judgment when he's away from the field. That's really the only way you can describe carrying a loaded firearm into a crowded New York City nightclub without a license to even own a gun in the state of New York.
The coaching staff and front office already has one receiver they have to constantly worry about. Adding another into the mix might not be the best idea.
His presence would also stunt the growth of some of the team's young receivers that they are hoping to develop - including Brian Hartline, Edmond Gates, Marlon Moore, and Roberto Wallace.
On the other hand, you have to consider what I will refer to as the "Michael Vick effect" - defined as the sudden realization that this is your final chance. That would mean Burress could be more motivated than he's ever been as he attempts to repair his image both on and off the field. That new hunger could be just what he needs to put together a successful comeback.
Unlike Vick, it also shouldn't take as long for Burress to make an impact on his new team. On ESPN yesterday, former receiver Cris Carter said that "Plaxico is playing the easiest position as a returning position that there is on the offensive side. I believe his transition can be very quick."
There's also a fascinating take about Burress on the National Football Post that looks at what Plaxico would be able to step in and do right away as he makes his return to football:
But I still go back to the term "situational football" as it applies to the 2011 season. A team that views Burress as fitting a small, but specific role. Forget about big plans with a player coming back into the league. Instead, look to your game plan and find a spot where he can help you win. Third downs and the 3-step passing game. Inside of the red zone and on the goal line—where size can win on the slant and fade.
If you look at this from that point of view, it's easy to see where Plaxico Burress would fit in here in Miami. This was a team that struggled to score points in the red zone last year. If you put Burress on one side with Brandon Marshall on the other (and use them properly, of course), how exactly would opposing defenses defend them?
The Dolphins will also be using more three-step drops under Brian Daboll than they did with Dan Henning, who essentially outlawed the three-step drop in Miami for some strange reason.
There's also the misconception that Burress is nothing more than a possession receiver. While he's not a burner by any stretch of the imagination, his combination of size, route running, and deceptive quickness actually makes Plaxico more of a deep threat than you might realize. From 2005 through 2007, Burress caught at least five passes of 40 or more yards in each season. Last year, the entire Dolphins team had just four.
I was originally against the idea of the Dolphins signing Plaxico Burress. But as I said on Twitter last night, I've warmed up to the idea - assuming the price is right. Should the Dolphins invest their money elsewhere? Probably. But if they can't fill the holes they believe need to be filled this offseason because of what is available to them, then why not put as much talent around Chad Henne this season and see what happens?
It's going to be interesting to see how the Dolphins play this. Make no mistake about it, Plaxico will be interested in the Dolphins. He lives in South Florida. His agent, Drew Rosenhaus, is based in Miami and has a very good relationship with the Dolphins. And there are reports that Burress and Rosenhaus have repeatedly expressed their interest to the Dolphins prior to and during Plaxico's legal troubles.
But that was when Bill Parcells was running the show. With Jeff Ireland now calling the shots, will he be more receptive to the idea?
Should he be?