Monday, December 1, 2008


Plaxico Burress has played his last game with the Giants, maybe his last as a professional NFL player. That last statement might be a bit much, because if Pacman Jones can come back and if Michael Vick is contemplating a comeback, then you can't guarantee that anybody can be banished forever.

New York State is very strict with enforcing gun laws, so Burress will probably do some jail time. I don't want to speculate on his conviction or his sentence, but it seems pretty cut and dried. He had a gun. It wasn't licensed. End of story. Furthermore, the minimum sentence is supposed to be 3 1/2 years. The only way he can get out of it would be if Mayor Bloomberg keeps shooting off his mouth (pun definitely intended) and Plax's lawyer Brafman convinces the judge that an impartial jury could not be selected from a pool of jurors that is influenced by his strong statements. Burress next appearance in court is not until March 31st, so it means the NFL and/or the Giants would have to deal with the discipline in this case. I would expect the Giants to put Burress on the non-football injury list, which means that he is done for the year and they do not have to pay him. Apparently there is a $1M roster bonus due for Burress on Dec 10 and that could be a decision point for the team. However, this $1M amount is not enough to force the Giants into a hasty decision about Burress that could jeopardize team chemistry and unity. What is more important is the long term affect of his big contract on the salary cap in the future.

What I mean by that is - despite Burress antics and the coaching staff and management's ambivalent feeling towards him, the management of the team should realize that he is well liked by many in the locker room. Cutting him summarily in the middle of the year could create a divide in the locker room between those players that wanted him to stay and those that may have been less supportive. Most of all it could cause a schism between the players and the coaching staff. Even though it may be a front office/management decision, players will equate management and coaching and Coughlin may lose much of the good feelings and capital he has worked so hard to build up in the last two years.

The best course for the Giants is probably to deactivate Burress for the rest of the year saying that his situation is too disruptive to the team and could cause a distraction from team goals. They could also say that because of the injury to the hamstring and the gunshot wound, they can not be certain when he would play next, so deactivating him for the rest of the season is in the best interest of the player's recovery and this deactivation will also maintain team unity and focus. That way they would still be paying him for the year, so he is not being punished severely and they can be seen as a supportive organization not taking draconian measures against a player that is already in some trouble. Kicking a player to the curb is the impression they want to avoid making to the locker room. They can further say that this will give them time to evaluate the legal situation more calmly and decide what disciplinary actions if any will be taken by the league and the team.

Then during the off-season they can address the long term situation and simply say that it has become clear that Burress legal problems create uncertainty for the team and they will cut him with less fanfare, less pressure and have the entire off-season to repair the locker room.

I read in the NY Post that the $35M contract that Burress signed before the season has lots of out clauses in it based on performance and other factors. Apparently the Giants anticipated (quite accurately, apparently) that Burress was not the most stable character and they did not want to guarantee all the money so they could walk away if needed. This was positively prescient by Reese and it means that the Giants would not be thrust into salary cap problems if they had to cut Burress.

Interesting sidelight that I mentioned earlier is the benefit that this might have to Amani Toomer. Giants have five important free agents at the end of this year that they have to make decisions on, one of them being Toomer. Giants have 6 talented WRs currently on the team: Burress, Toomer, Hixon, Smith, Moss and Manningham. Toomer might have been cut loose at the end of the season, because 5 is too many to keep on one team - one of the WRs usually doesn't dress. If Burress does not come back next year, Giants may change their plans and sign Toomer, since it is useful to have one experienced WR on the team. Of the other 4 WRs none of them has been in the league more than 3 years.

Another possible beneficiary is David Tyree. If a WR slot opens up, he might be kept on the team as a ST player who can also fill in productively in an emergency at WR. For example, whenever the Giants call that play that requires Manning to throw the ball high and the WR to catch it on his helmet, Giants should send in Tyree for that play. He does it pretty well.

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