Matt Castello and I lead off the show discussing the eight athletic teams cut by the University of Maryland before talking about the Week 11 in the NFL and baseball’s new realignment and postseason ventures. The due also debate whether Justin Verlander should have won the American League MVP Award and if Curt Schilling is a Hall of Famer in addition to ranking the top five starters of the last 20 years.
Plaxico Burress has had four seasons in his career with over 1,000 yards receiving. The former Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Giants wide receiver has six years with at least 60 receptions and has reached double digits in touchdown catches twice. At 6-foot-5, he provides a huge target for his new quarterback Mark Sanchez, especially in the red zone, where Sanchez completed only 47.7 percent of his passes last season. Most importantly for his new team, the New York Jets, who have been to back-to-back AFC Championship games, Burress earned a Super Bowl ring with the Giants in 2007. However, even though Burress bring a lot to the table, the Jets may be expecting too much if they feel Burress will be a key contributor this season.
Burress has not played football since 2008. Instead, he has spent most of the last two years in prison. Many people point to the Philadelphia Eagles’ Michael Vick as an example of how NFL players can succeed after they finish their time in jail. There are many differences between Vick’s success story and the path Burress wants to take. For one, Vick was 29-years old after signing with the Eagles following his release from prison in 2009. Burress will be 34 when the Jets kick off their season against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday Night Football on September 11.
It also took Vick a full year to adjust to playing football again; he accumulated only 181 total yards and three touchdowns in 12 games with the Eagles in 2009 before totaling 3,694 yards and 30 touchdowns during the 2010 season, also while playing 12 games. If it took Vick a full year to get back up to speed playing in a less physically demanding position (although Vick certainly takes his lumps as a QB), the Jets may be making a mistake in expecting Burress, who is attempting his comeback at a much older age than Vick, to have a big impact at a position where he will need to be physical and take hits to be successful.
The Jets’ rationale for signing Plaxico Burress makes sense. He is a proven possession-type receiver who will be a gigantic target for Mark Sanchez in the passing game. The Jets are expecting Plaxico Burress to be their No. 2 receiver behind Santonio Holmes. However, after missing the last two seasons because of jail time, it may take Burress longer than New York would like to re-adjust to the speed and physicality of playing football in the NFL again. The Jets expect Burress to play a key role in what they believe is a Super Bowl contending team. What they get from him may dent those championship aspirations.
There are many different moves the New York Jets can make in free agency before the team begins training camp on Sunday. Rumors are swirling of strong mutual interest between the Jets and prized cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha. New York has also been linked to cornerbacks Drayton Florence and Jonathan Joseph, nose tackle Kevin Gregg and future Hall of Fame wide receiver Randy Moss. The Jets can also try to re-sign cornerback Antonio Cromartie and/or receivers Braylon Edwards and Brad Smith. However, no matter what the Jets do between now and the end of free agency, no move will be as important as the one New York just made in re-signing star receiver Santonio Holmes.
Holmes’ contract with the Jets is for 5 years and $50 million, with $24 million guaranteed, the highest guarantee ever given to a wide receiver. The deal comes with plenty of risk, though. Holmes is just one strike away from being suspended for a full season because of two prior mishaps, one of which resulted in a four-game suspension at the beginning of last season, with the NFL’s substance-abuse policy.
That being said, it is a risk the Jets had to take. Holmes’ speed and game-changing ability is matched by a select few receivers in the league. He has already developed chemistry and camaraderie with third-year quarterback Mark Sanchez. Most importantly, Holmes is Sanchez’s favorite playmaker and target, something that could have stunted Sanchez’s development had Holmes signed elsewhere. Holmes is often Sanchez’s first-look in the passing game, and always seems to respond by coming up with huge catches in the clutch, including two game-winning touchdown catches last year to beat the Cleveland Browns and Houston Texans. For a team that has been knocking on the door of the Super Bowl the past two seasons, Holmes also has a Super Bowl pedigree. He was named the Super Bowl XLIII MVP after making a tremendous touchdown catch, dragging both of his feet on the side of the endzone with only 35 seconds left to give the Pittsburgh Steelers a 27-23 victory over the Arizona Cardinals.
The New York Jets certainly made a big splash in a move they had to make, bringing Santonio Holmes back to the Meadowlands. Holmes’ playmaking ability brings so much to the Jets offense and he should help Sanchez continue to grow as a quarterback. New York is certainly not done in this hectic free agency period, as they have a variety of options with where to go next. However, no matter what moves the Jets make between now and the beginning of training camp on Sunday, none will be as important as New York’s first one, re-signing Santonio Holmes.