Would Burress fit with the Eagles?
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Would Burress fit with the Eagles?
Sheil Kapadia, Philly.com
I covered the Plaxico Burress nugget yesterday, but after checking out your comments and hearing some different opinions on the matter, I thought I'd expand on my thoughts a little bit today.
In case you missed it, Gary Myers of the New York Daily News wrote that he's heard the Eagles will be "first in line" as a suitor for Burress when he's released from prison next month.
Let's take this point-by-point to determine whether such a move would make sense.
And if you're wondering whether we've reached a new low in lockout-induced writing, well, yes, we have. But this beats helmet power rankings, right?
Argument: The Eagles need red-zone help
My take: The Eagles' defense was historically bad in the red zone last year, but the offense was not. The Birds were in the middle of the pack (15th), scoring touchdowns on 52.83 percent of their red-zone chances (not including Week 17 against the Cowboys). Michael Vick was a weapon in the red zone. He threw 13 touchdowns and one interception, but maybe more importantly, ran for nine touchdowns. In other words, he was responsible for 22 red-zone scores.
Jeremy Maclin was the Eagles' best red-zone receiver (see next point), but the Birds have other options on their roster too. In 2009, Brent Celek had 10 catches for 86 yards and six touchdowns in the red zone. And LeSean McCoy ranked second in the NFL with 14 red-zone catches in 2010, accounting for six red-zone scores total (rushing and receiving combined).
Argument: The Eagles need size in the red zone
My take: As I mentioned, the Eagles' best red-zone receiver last season was Maclin. He had 11 catches for 104 yards and seven touchdowns inside the opponents' 20-yard line. Only eight players in the NFL had more red-zone catches than Maclin, who is listed at 6 feet, 198 pounds.
Looking at the numbers league-wide, big receivers no longer dominate in the red zone. The top three wide receivers in terms of red-zone receptions last season were Danny Amendola (5-11), Wes Welker (5-9) and Lance Moore (5-9). That's not to say that height doesn't help. Guys like Marques Colston (6-4) were also effective, but it's not as big a factor as you might think.
Plus, don't forget about Riley Cooper. No one's arguing that he has the ceiling of Burress in his prime, but the Eagles spent a fifth-round pick on him and like Cooper's blend of size (6-3) and speed.
Argument: The situation resembles the Vick signing a couple years ago
My take: OK, this one has some merit. After the Eagles signed Vick, I stopped using phrases like There's no way... or I'd be shocked if... . In other words, I won't rule anything out with this franchise. They have become rather unpredictable in recent years.
When the Eagles signed Vick, they already had Donovan McNabb and Kevin Kolb at quarterback, so it's not as if they were filling a need. And they made sure to sign Vick to a two-year deal, knowing that he would likely need a year to re-adjust to the NFL. Burress is obviously not a quarterback, but he's never relied on his speed, and we see receivers in their 30s contributing to teams every year.
With that being said, I don't think the Eagles are going to make it their mission to sign every player who gets released from prison. The main factor is still if they think the player can help them win games.
Argument: Any time you can add a player like Burress, you have to explore the option
My take: That would probably be true if we were talking about the Burress that had 12 touchdown catches in 2007 or the Burress who piled up 1,214 yards in 2005. But we're talking about a Burress who was last on the field on Nov. 16, 2008. He'll turn 34 in August. If you figure he takes a year to get adjusted (maybe more considering the potential for limited practice time with the lockout), you're talking about a 35-year-old receiver by the time he's able to really contribute.
Also, while Burress certainly had a lot of success league-wide before going to jail, our view of him is probably a little inflated because of how much success he had against the Eagles. In eight games against the Birds (as a member of the Giants), Burress scored seven touchdowns and had four 100-yard games. The Eagles kept him out of the end zone just twice.
I don't buy the idea that signing Burress would send a message to Jackson, who is entering the final year of his contract. Much of what the Eagles do offensively is based on Jackson's speed, and he's only 24 years old. The thought that Burress could somehow make Jackson expendable is just silly.