NFP: Bears, Bucs best fits for Burress

On Monday in New York, a judge delayed the trial of former New York Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress(notes) until late September, and there's talk now that he might not face an actual trial until 2010, setting off wide speculation that he'll play NFL football in 2009.

But where? Is there a team that will take on the risk that Burress might miss time due to either the legal system or the disciplinary action that could be handed down by the league office? That's what we have to wait for, folks.


Burress had 35 receptions for the Giants last season.

(The Star-Ledger/US Presswire)

Once commissioner Roger Goodell makes a decision one way or another about suspending Burress in 2009, I believe it will turn into a race – a money race – to get him into uniform because of a simple, well-known fact in the NFL: Several teams could use the services of a red zone receiver like Burress.

At this time of the offseason, the talent level available on the free-agent market is slim – almost nil – when it comes to finding a player who can provide an impact to your team in the upcoming season.

However, Burress breaks that mold. He has Pro Bowl talent and a Super Bowl ring, and despite what you think about his off-the-field actions, he can produce – and that's the bottom line on Sundays.

In saying that, let's look at some possible destinations for Burress in 2009.

Chicago Bears: It's no secret the Bears could use a Pro Bowl threat on the outside to go along with new quarterback Jay Cutler(notes). This is a run-first team, but outside of their dynamic tight ends and running back Matt Forte(notes), their receiving corps is lacking in experience and overall talent. Yes, Cutler would benefit, but I believe that wide receiver Devin Hester(notes) could develop into a great talent who could be used in the intermediate passing game, where he would get the ball in space, and in matchups he would win with Burress as the No. 1 option in Chicago.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The Bucs have a new coach in Raheem Morris – a young coach who should be willing to take chances – and they could use a talent like Burress to complement receiver Antonio Bryant(notes) as he builds on his breakout season of 2008. Yes, Tampa Bay needs to figure out who will be under center on opening day between Byron Leftwich(notes) and Luke McCown(notes), but whomever they chose will be that much more effective with Burress and Bryant together on the outside. I like that combo – and would hate to face the pair.

Baltimore Ravens: It seems that every offseason we talk about the Ravens and their lack of overall talent on the outside, but they continue to win despite that shortcoming. This is a football team that's built on defense, a dominant downhill running game and a vertical passing game that takes calculated chances down the field. However, adding Burress would make them even more dynamic on offense and could aid in the development of second-year quarterback Joe Flacco(notes). Burress would make the Ravens a more complete football team and a serious threat to not only win the AFC North, but also end up in Miami – playing for a Super Bowl ring.

New York Jets: I'm hesitant to list the Jets because of the distractions Burress would cause in the New York area based on his current legal issues, but that doesn't hide the fact he would be a great target for rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez(notes), who will experience some road bumps in his first season. The Jets can run the football, and they are focused on playing a fierce brand of defense under new head coach Rex Ryan, but the move makes sense from a playmaking standpoint on offense. They need receivers to compete in the AFC East.

Oakland Raiders: The more options the Raiders present JaMarcus Russell(notes), the more opportunities he has to develop into the franchise quarterback they believed he could be when they drafted him. It's time to pull the plug on the Javon Walker(notes) experience out west, and adding Burress would also allow rookie Darius Heyward-Bey to play in a No. 2 role, which would benefit him not only this season, but in his future development. This move wouldn't shock me at all, and it would make the Raiders that much more competitive in the AFC West.

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