Let us not get too carried away about this Plaxico Burress business. Plaxico, even at his peak, before that little incident with the gun, was never one of the best wide receivers in the NFL. He has never been selected for a Pro Bowl, he only caught more than ten touchdowns in a season twice, and his primary Pro Football Reference comp is Laveranues Coles: a solid player, but hardly a Hall of Famer. And that was three years ago, before he was 34 years old. (OK, he'll be 34 in eleven days.) As a frame of reference, Wayne Chrebet, the Jets legend who seemed perpetually elderly, was retired at the age of 32. Wesley Walker, the Jets' second all-time receiving yards leader, caught eight passes in his age-34 season and then hung up his cleats; Al Toon was retired by 29; Keyshawn Johnson quit at 34, too. Plaxico is quite old. But still: It's just perfect that he's playing for the Jets. It's the ideal end to his story.
Not that anyone cared about stories. As Gary Myers made it clear in the Daily News this morning, this was about cash.
When the Jets, who pressured him into making a quick decision, offered a 1-year, $3.017 million guaranteed contract and the Giants' 1-year offer had no signing bonus, a $1 million base salary, a $500,000 bonus if he was active for all 16 games and an additional $2.5 million in incentives, it became an easy financial decision. The Giants didn't guarantee a penny of the $4 million package. His $1 million base would not be guaranteed until he made the team. He took the sure money and it's hard to blame him. If the Giants really wanted him, they would have made a much more competitive offer with at least some of the money guaranteed.
Myers points out that Jets coach Rex Ryan didn't even talk to Plaxico during the process; the wide receiver simply took the highest offer. If you had spent that much time in jail, and three years without income, and realistically had only one payday left, you'd have done the same thing.
So: Why did the Jets go after Plaxico? We had been proponents of the Jets signing Randy Moss, who's only a few months older than Burress, has far more history of success, and, oh yeah, has played organized football at some point in the last three years. Or, if they didn't want the Moss risk, the Jets could have just stuck with Braylon Edwards, who certainly wasn't terrible for them last year. Right?
Not exactly. Edwards — who may end up signing with The Buzzsaw That Is the Arizona Cardinals — is still more expensive than Plaxico, and the Jets needed every penny they had to sign Antonio Cromartie, whom they needed after missing out on Nnamdi Asomugha. (By the way, the Eagles are now the Miami Heat. Cheer accordingly.) The $3 million was a no-brainer for Plaxico, but for the Jets, it was a bargain basement price. Plus: You can guarantee Plaxico will be far more motivated than Randy Moss would be.
Plus, Plaxico assures that the Jets, for the third consecutive year (or maybe even fourth, if you count the Brett Favre season), will be the NFL's most entertaining traveling roadshow. The Jets can take a chance on Plaxico because, hey, why not?: No matter what happens, and no matter how much weaponry anybody tucks in their sweatpants, no one's taking the spotlight away from that head coach. This is of course one of the reasons his players enjoy playing for Rex Ryan so much. The Jets are going to be so much fun to watch again this season, and that would have been the case without Plaxico. But with him? Man, we're so glad football's back.