Earlier this week, free agent wide receiver Plaxico Burress made it crystal clear as to which team he would like to be a part of in 2012. Plax told reporters that he would love to be a Carolina Panther, stating that it would be a perfect fit for him. He has family and friends in Charlotte, and he would love to be an addition to Rob Chudzinski’s potent offense. Management quickly shot this possibility down, making a statement that they have no interest in signing Burress.
I have complete faith in the front office. They have made all the right moves over the past year and a half, and there is no doubt that the franchise is moving in the right direction. However, as an opinionated writer, I feel that I have an obligation to convey my own opinion. Burress would have been an enormous free agent signing for the organization and for the fans, and here’s why.
Reason #1: He’s 6-5, 232 pounds. There are many skill sets in the NFL that can be coached up and improved. But you can’t teach size. Burress has been a nightmare for NFL secondaries for over a decade because of his rare size and ability to catch the ball over smaller defenders. Cam Newton has a tendency to throw high balls and allow his receiver to make a play, and Plax would have done just that in a Panther uniform.
Reason #2: He’s productive. Burress has played for the Steelers, the Giants, and most recently for the Jets, and has been a crucial part of the offense for every team that he’s played for. He was one of the few bright spots for a troubled NY Jets squad in ’11, racking up 8 touchdowns with the lowly Mark Sanchez throwing to him. He has been one of the best red zone weapons in the NFL during his career and would have made the Cats that much scarier near the end zone.
Reason #3: He fits a need. There’s no denying that the Panthers have a fairly crowded roster at the wide receiver position. Lafell emerged last season as a solid wideout and David Gettis is returning from injury, but there is no outright #2 receiver at the moment. Having Burress line up opposite Steve Smith with Lafell and Gettis alternating in the slot would have been a fearsome combination.
With Burress’ advancing age and prior off-field incidents (they guy did shoot himself in the leg at a nightclub), it is understandable why management would be weary of signing him. In this case, however, I personally believe the pros outweigh the cons. Burress would have been a huge signing and its disappointing that the men in charge didn’t feel the same way.