Marcus Hayes: Oddly unwanted Plaxico Burress

Posted: July 31, 2012

PLAXICO BURRESS wants a job.

Riley Cooper broke his collarbone.

Burress exited prison last season campaigning to join buddy Michael Vick in Philadelphia. After a productive season with the Jets, in which he caught eight touchdown passes, Burress resumed his Eagles campaign.

Last week, he stumped on a local radio station.

A convenient marriage, right?

Not so fast.

Nobody wants Plax.

Why?

Nobody will say, exactly.

Not the NFL front-office types.

Not Burress' agent, Drew Rosenhaus.

"I haven't seen anything like this in my 25 years as an agent," Rosenhaus declared Sunday. "I am very surprised he hasn't been signed.

“Shocked.

“Befuddled.

“SMH."

Shaking his head, huh?

Well, teams must be telling Rosenhaus something shocking to make him so befuddled.

"No. I don't know," Rosenhaus said. Then, he amended, "I won't share that."

Rosenhaus did share that it won't be a money matter: "Our contract demands are not an issue. We'll find a way to make this work."

Does that mean Burress would settle for the 10-year veteran's minimum of $925,000, plus, perhaps, incentives? That's what Chad Ochocinco reportedly took to join the Dolphins.

Ochocinco, 34, had 15 catches and one TD last season with the high-powered Patriots, with Tom Brady.

Burress, 34, had 45 catches for 612 yards and those eight TDs … with Mark Sanchez.

They all leave it for you to surmise. That includes the Eagles.

They will say that they like tight end Brent Celek and No. 1 receiver Jeremy Maclin.

That they love the potential of Cooper, a 6-3, 222-pound third-year receiver who is expected back early in the season.

That they want 6-3 rookie Marvin McNutt to justify their investment of a sixth-round pick on a pretty slow guy.

Celek caught five touchdown passes last season. So did Maclin. Cooper caught one. McNutt, of course, none.

That's 11, combined. They caught eight inside the red zone.

Seven of Burress' eight TDs were caught inside the red zone. Five were inside the 10-yard line.

So, why no interest?

This time, it can't be the agent.

During the Joe Banner era, Rosenhaus, who represented Terrell Owens through his brief and bizarre days as an Eagle, couldn't get a cup of coffee at the Eagles' nerve center.

Now, Rosenhaus is Howie Roseman's new best friend, having completed extensions for DeSean Jackson and LeSean McCoy with Roseman, autonomous as GM.

Head coach Andy Reid said Sunday the Eagles would not add any receiver. Rosenhaus said he is fine with that, and exempted Roseman from criticism for not pursuing Plax:

"I'm aware of the situation with Riley Cooper. Howie Roseman is one of the top GMs in the game," Rosenhaus gushed.

Really, Rosenhaus would love for Burress to land with Vick, a fellow Hampton Roads native with, um, other similarities in his past.

Vick, a short quarterback, would love to have a huge target like Burress, who is 6-5, 225 pounds.

But Roseman and Reid aren't biting. Rosenhaus can't get anyone else to sign Burress, either.

Can Burress really be this toxic?

Comic coach Rex Ryan lost control of the Jets last season. Sanchez never really owned the locker room. Burress might not have helped, but he didn't appear to hurt.

Burress also caught eight TDs.

Guess how many Jets accounted for more touchdowns?

Zero.

Guess how many players in the NFL caught more TD passes?

Only 10.

None of them wore an Eagles jersey.

Granted, at this point, Burress is not even a third receiver. Or a fourth.

Third and fourth receivers play special teams.

Burress, at 35, cannot play special teams. Burress, at 25, could not play special teams.

Third and fourth receivers can play every down if the top dogs go down. At 35, with limited speed, Burress cannot do that, either.

Third and fourth receivers block like tight ends; at least, Riley Cooper and Jason Avant do for the Eagles.

Burress couldn't block a drain.

That is overrated. The Eagles are mediocre at scoring touchdowns in the red zone, so blocking is overrated.

The Eagles sweated Plaxico's presence when the teams met last year – so much so that they made sure to cover him with cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, their $60 million free-agent stud.

Burress caught a 9-yard TD.

"He doesn't have the speed that he had when he came in, but he is a threat," said Eagles safety Kurt Coleman. "We put Nnamdi on him. Plax still had a great catch. He still has all the tools and intangibles you want in a wide receiver, especially down in the red zone."

It might have been the systems he played in, but Burress seldom was the sort of high-production wideout he was expected to be as the eighth overall pick in the 2000 draft. He averaged just 56 catches in his nine seasons with the Steelers and Giants before he shot himself in the leg in a New York nightclub and spent 22 months in prison on a weapons conviction.

Certainly, the record might make teams gun-shy.

But Burress is a year removed from his release. No one from the Jets has said that Burress was disruptive; certainly, not the same sort of disaster he was at the end of his tenure with the Giants, who suspended him for 2 weeks in 2008 … before he shot himself in the leg.

Which, in turn, cost him two seasons.

Still, as Rosenhaus pointed out, "There was so much interest in him last year."

That curiosity has been satisfied.

Burress is a million-dollar, one-trick pony looking for one last ride.

All 32 teams have full stables … even if some of their horses are lame.

Contact Marcus Hayes at hayesm@phillynews.com.

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