Chicago Sun-Times

Could Burress go from jail suit to Bears uniform?

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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."


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14 Comments

I dunno. From a character standpoint the guy made a mistake, paid the price and did his time. I can't see denying him an opportunity because of character issues. From an age point of view it is probably the miles, not the years that are important. There is probably tread left on his tires.

The question is: can he still play after a two year layoff?

History would be against him. Best case, it will take awhile to find out. I really doubt he will light it up anywhere this year, especially early. Mike Vick is an elite, world class athlete who stands out even among other elite athletes. He was able to get his mojo back, but he looked pretty ordinary the first year. Wide receivers have a very demanding skill-set even for professional sports. The labor situation is definately not going to help Burress because he is going to need all the reps he can find. He won't be worth much until he gets those reps.

Is he ultimately worth the patience and roster spot the Bears would have to spend on him? Again, I dunno. Maybe. I think probably another team like the Jets or Pats will be more willing than the Bears to roll the dice with him on the money side.

Im not so sure the Bears getting Plax would be a dynamic move. Whoever wants to say well Vick was in Jail and made it back in the NFL with little problems... Well Vick was 29 years old when he came out not 34. The Bears have needs elsewhere and could use the money to sign a player with more value to the team, like corner back.
I realy dont think Pax would sign for a min. vet contract when there will be other offers better and longer then what the Bears would probably give.

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"

Hey Neil could you reming Angelo the next time you see him of a few names, like Amani Toomer, Hakeem Nicks, Mario Manningham, Steve Smith. They have one of the best young recieving corps in all of football. They haven't had a pro bowl calibur reciever in 20 years? How do you say Amani Toomer was not a Pro Bowl calibur reciever and call yourself a GM, or Nick and Smith for that matter?

Also the NY giant offensive rankings for the last 20 years.

Starting in
91: 7, 18, 5, 11, 17, 14, 18, 19, 13, 5, 14, 9, 22, 13, 24, 25, 7, 5, 13, 7

So they cracked the top ten 7 times in 20 years. I would not call them an offensive power house by means.

You want to know where the Bears offense has ranked since Angelo has been here?

Starting in 2002: 29, 28, 32, 29, 15, 27, 26, 23, 30. Looking at Bear history, lets take a look at some of the years a reciever for the Bears really stood out. 1999 Marcus Robinson had 1400 yards the Bears offense ranked 8th, in 95 Jeff Gahram had 1300 yards they ranked 9th. You know what his problem is? He is not very good at spotting recieving talent because while he can identify talented athletes he is not very good at spotting talented football players, plus I think he is affraid of the position, it is a weakness for him and he doesn't know how address the position, or even what to look for. To be fare it is a tough positon to draft, but he will eventually have to fix that position and the rest of the offense.

I am still surprised he never went after interior line help earlier in his drafts. You know if you watched any Bears games last year that they can't open up the inside running game. How many times have we seen Forte get stood up at the line with no place to go on the goa line? He would probably have a few more yards and TD's with a solid interior to run behind, but again not an area Angelo thinks he needs to waste draft picks on before the 4th or 5th round, not when he can draft a crap safety, or a crap DT, or a crap, QB, or a crap DE. I can't imagine why two of the Bears biggest areas of need are O-Line and WR.

Brando and Creighton both have good points. I agree that Plax may command a larger paycheck than the Bears are willing to offer.

However,

If Plax works out for Lovie, Mad Mike, and Jerry, and he's in reasonable shape, the Bears would be crazy not to offer him a 2 year contract with a 3rd year option. As for dollar amount, that's going to be tricky. As Brando noted, Plax may go for the team offering the biggest contract - and that probably won't be the Bears. That said, if Chicago makes a good offer, Plax could sign with them partly because of the potential for a SECOND contract. Getting that second deal, regardless of what team its from, will be predicated upon the numbers he generates, which he won't do on a bad team, transitioning team, or a team loaded with recievers.

Frankly, he could do a lot worse than catching balls from Cutler in Martz's offense. Plax, wants to play ball and have an opportunity to make plays. I think that's why the Bears are considered contenders for signing him.They have a little money to spend, they have a strong-armed QB, they've been to the playoffs, and they're short on recievers.

PLUS - even though Plax is 34, I'd call it a very young 34 since he hasn't played for a couple of years and there's likely no wear and tear.

Lastly, Rosenhaus has worked with the Bears front office fairly regularly. I think that's part of the equation as well.

It will be interesting to see what happens. There are other recievers out there as well. I'll be pretty disappointed if Jerry doesn't at least "kick the tires" on Steve Smith.

I don't know about Plaxico Burress, I just can't see Angelo paying a guy with his history with guns (see Tank Johnson), Chicago will probably shy away from Plax.

Now, a couple free agents I can see the Bears going after are Malcom Floyd of San Diego, the 6-5 225lb receiver is just the type Chicago needs right now to give Cutler a bigger target. Another one is James Jones of Green Bay, Jones has only been in the league since 2007 and has the complete skill set, he just never gets a shot on a roster filled with talented receivers in Green Bay. Another one I like is Jacksonville's Mike Sims-Walker, nice size at 6-2 214lbs and would also give Cutler that bigger target he doesn't have right now. I think any one of these guys would be a nice pickup for the Bears. I would go after either James Jones or Mike Sims-Walker over Malcom Floyd because they're both younger than Floyd who is going into his 30's. Mike Sims-Walker would then get the edge because of his size (6-2), he could give Chicago that split end they haven't had on the roster for awhile GO BEARS!!

"Another one is James Jones of Green Bay, Jones has only been in the league since 2007 and has the complete skill set, he just never gets a shot on a roster filled with talented receivers in Green Bay." -Mr. Armstead

James Jones? Are you serious Kevin? You mean the same James Jones who always had a great QB throwing to him, never had the pressure of carrying the team as a number three guy, is part of a pass-happy offense and yet, yet he consistently drops balls thrown into his hands and fumbles at the absolute worst time to do so? That James Jones?

What is it with you and players that suck?

Earl Bennett is way more polished, passionate and focused than Jones.

As for Plastic Co., couldn't hurt. But the real hurdle lies in dealing with Rosenhaus.

Nice point about Jones, and I agree Earl Bennett is better. I was just throwing some names out as far as possible free agent receivers I think the Bears would look at. If you read my entire post, at the end I say Mike Sims-Walker would be the best fit and the free agent I'd like the most because of his size and the fact he would be a better fit at split end than any of the current receivers on the roster GO BEARS!!

I cannot see Burress being a Bear. It won't happen. Perhaps a big receiver is needed, but Aromadoshu had real possibilities and was virtually ignored after a dropped pass in the end zone. As I recall, Cutler really liked him and went to bat for him. Now it seems blocking is the only criteria for the big guy in Martz's offense. That's okay I guess but still did not provide much protection for Cutler in the passing game.Perhaps It is all an academic question anyway, and we'll twiddle our thumbs all season waiting for the NFL's players' and owners' money squabbles to be resolved.

Kenny Britt might or might-not make it with the Titans. He is very young (22yrs old) but yet a bit troubled. Kenny Britt lets say is let go by the Titans, I think he could be that big body WR that the Bears lack.

Mike who says you leave Bennett as the number 3 reciever. I believe the biggest problem for the Bears at reciever is Hester. Although I think the WCO is a better fit for Bennett he has done well in this offense, and there is no reason the Bears can't use him the exact same way the Packers use Donald Driver. I say the Bears have a solid number two in Bennett, Hester should be fighting for the 4th reciever spot, Knox is more of a one trick pony at this point and should have to compete for a startinng spot or end up the number 2 or three. The Bears need a number one reciever not a another numer 3 or 4.

Constantly getting mediocre help at reciever is just going to make the Bears a deep mediocre recieving corps, which they pretty much already are. I really think Bennett is a good number 3 but with these players he is probaly your best flanker. Knox has the attributes of a Flanker but lacks the rout running ability, same as Hester. Neither Hester or Knox bring to mind talented Split ends do they, I mean they have the speed, but the size, hands and everything else seem to be missing.

So basically they need a split end. Which Malcome Floyd is, he is not a great player but he plays in a similar offense and tends to fit the bill of what a Split end is. However as Neil has pointed out Martz likes small recievers who can make cuts on a dime and have great speed. Not that this requirment of his has done wonders for his offense the last 7 or 8 years but that's what he tends to like. Smith and Holmes are also sitting out there, Smith is one of the top three slot recievers in football. You could sign him and let he and Bennett battle it out for the starting Flanker position and primary slot reciver in a two reciever formation. Bennett is terrible at the Split End position so that's a no go, and I don't think Smith can play it either. But Smith could replace Hester without a second thought at Reciever.

The again the Giants would have to be nuts to let Smith go. Holmes and Floyd seem like the best options depending on what the Bears want to do. Top recievers don't generally enter FA in their prime. So it would be nice if Angelo actually took a little more intrest in the position in the draft.

Good points there, Creighton. Remember though, Martz worked with big receivers in Detroit. I think, ultimately, he favors guys that run proper routes (you also pointed this out) - which is what his system is predicated upon.

Brando, if the Bears are trying to stay away from troublemakers, I don't see then nabbing Kenny Brit. I like that you threw him out there. It will be interesting to see how that shakes out.

I would not be surprised at all if the Bears went after Plax. I've watched him play - I think you've all forgotten. They guy is good. His criminal situation was VERY DIFFERENT than Tank Johnson's. It was a very stupid and dangerous mistake, but the punishment was incrediblly draconian and, IMO, ridiculous.

Armstead's ideas don't really represent anything other than DEPTH. They are not an improvement over what the Bears already have. Maybe minor improvement, but nothing significant.

The Bears need to use FA to net a starting WR and a starting OL, I'm just hoping at least ONE OF THEM is a proven NFL starter.

LATE

estevenj, while I agree my idea of signing free agent receiver Mike Sims-Walker is not a world saving free agent signing, it would be an improvement because Sims-Walker, at 6-2, would give the Bears the split end they lack in their receiving core right now. Sims-Walker isn't an all-pro, but has had back to back seasons with 7tds and at least a 13 yard avg receiving. And I'm sure with a QB like Cutler throwing him the ball, his numbers would improve even more. A player like Sims-Walker would be much better for Chicago than a 34 year old Plaxico Burress. Now, maybe the Plaxico Burress before he went to jail would be an improvement, but not the post jail time Plaxico.

And estevenj, how are you gonna tell Brando the Bears will stay away from Kenny Britt (which they will) because he's a trouble maker, and then say it wouldn't surprise you if they went after Plax? Dude, their both trouble makers. If the Bears are gonna stay away from one, they're gonna stay away from the other.

And estevenj, no, Plaxico Burress's criminal situation was not that much different than Tank Johnson's. They both had to do with guns. Burress was charged with an illegal possession of firearms, very similar to Tank. The only difference was Tank Johnson had a lot of big guns, Burress had only one small gun. Bottom line, they both had possession of illegal firearms. Read this link.
http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/news/story?id=3736356

Now, back to free agency, if the Bears are gonna go after a big name receiver, they need to go after Viking's receiver Sidney Rice. If they do land Rice, they won't be able to sign a big name interior lineman, which they need more. That was the reason I brough up all them smaller signee types at receiver in my above post. Myself, I'd like to see the Bears spend their money on a big name interior lineman like Carl Nicks, the 6-5 343lb LG, that would set this team over the top GO BEARS!!


Yeah but Martz had no say in the Lions WR draft craz back then. Roy Williams was there 2 years before Martz and the reciever Martz added was Mike Furrey who was a converted safety from the Rams and Johnson didn't didn't really shine under Martz. Martz also brought in McDonald another small reciever 5'10 from the Rams to start in the Detroit offense and in fact he had a better year than Johnson, those 2 were the Martz guys. Martz will say he wants this and that and will say he is going to do this and that but that is usually not the case.

Kevin,

Don't even try to argue that that carrying an illegal pistol (or even a couple) for personal protection is the same as trafficking modified and illegal assault weapons (allegedly) in BULK. That is one of the most ignorant comments of all time. That's like saying a teenager caught on the playground with a joint of marijuana is the same as the teenager caught hauling 50 pounds of weed in his car. "Hey, they're both felony possession of marijuana..." Gimme a break.

I worked as an information analyst for law enforcement and a prosecutors for over a decade. Judges and lawyers exist - in part - to make those distinctions when investigating and prosecuting crimes.

As for the link you sent me, ESPN's own legal analyst Roger Cossack called New York's prosecution of Burress "draconian."

Your Kenny Brit argument is equally stupid. First, Plaxico served an excessively long sentence away from his family, in which he received extensive treatment. Kenny Brit was just arrested for the second time and a third arrest may be in the works. He is a repeat offender - that some media outlets and unnamed teammates are calling a "crime spree." http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2011/06/09/kenny-britt-arrested-again/

Lastly, as I stated, there are other receivers out there besides Plaxico. I'd like to see the Bears nab Nicks or Rice. That would be great.

Later.

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This page contains a single entry by Neil Hayes published on June 6, 2011 8:56 AM.

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