Even with hundreds of players set to hit free agency and create a buzz, it's a player who hasn't put up a single statistic in the National Football League since 2008 that has so many sportswriters and NFL analysts talking the most. Plaxico Burress has served his prison time and is now available as a free agent just like any other player whose contract is up, and the big play ability that was once there have many wondering whether Burress could bring that same talent to another team on this side of prison.
The odds are certainly stacked against him. The game has changed at least somewhat since 2008 in the players and coaches he would be facing. He will be 34-years-old by the 2011 regular season. He hasn't exactly had pro level workout facilities. Yet the NFL is still as reliant on the passing game as ever, and enough teams are hurting for red zone targets at wideout that Burress should receive some interest from several teams.
Yet for those who hope Burress will be an impact WR once again, some perspective is necessary. Burress was already seemingly in decline his last season with over a half season's worth of starts yet only 4 touchdowns and 454 receiving yards to his name. For that matter, Burress has only crossed the 1,000 yard mark four times in a 9 season career. He's certainly an ideally sized target at 6-5, but the lack of playing time should keep every team realistic in its expectations for Burress.
Yet that hasn't stopped the Oakland Raiders from being mentioned alongside teams like the New York Jets as possible stops for Burress in free agency. The Raiders have definite needs on the outside for a playmaker, especially in the red zone and Burress' hands and large frame would serve that role well -- if he's up to NFL standards. Zach Miller was the Raiders leading receiver last year with 60 catches and no WR broke the 50 catch mark. Louis Murphy and Jacoby Ford led Raider wideouts in receiving yards, but neither one had more than 2 touchdowns. Simply put, the Raiders need a major target at wide receiver.
For the Raiders to put everything in a Burress type basket would be irresponsible of the front office, so expect them to bring in another veteran receiver even if Burress becomes a Raider. But at the very least, it would provide an intriguing subplot in the AFC West this season.