Although Gary Myers of The New York Daily News last week floated the possibility that Philadelphia might be the team most interested in adding erstwhile wide receiver Plaxico Burress when he is released from jail June 6, there have been conflicting signals from Eagles officials this week.
That's not say there is a tug-o'-war among Philly officials, just that club insiders are putting out mixed messages concerning their interest, or lack thereof, in the wide receiver. The suggestion is that, just because the Eagles signed Michael Vick in 2009 after his incarceration and hiatus from the league, they will welcome Burress back to the NFL.
But the reality is that Burress, who will turn 34 next month, presents even more question marks than Vick did. In his four seasons with the Giants, Burress scored 33 touchdowns, but his average per reception reduced every year. In 2008, the last season he played, Burress averaged a career-worst 13.0 yards.
And while Burress still presents a tough red-zone matchup given his size - more than half of his career touchdowns, 28 of 55 scores, have come from the 20-yard line or inside of it - the Eagles don't employ a lot of fade- or corner-type routes inside the 20. The Eagles often struggle in the red zone, but coaches feel the presence of Vick, and the running threat he presents, help make up for any deficiencies.
There is also the fact that Burress will have endured a stretch of 33-plus months between games. Vick went about the same between regular-season appearances, but it took him a year to get his legs back and regain his form. If it takes Burress a year, he'll be a 35-year-old wide receiver, and there aren't many of those on NFL rosters.
Superagent Drew Rosenhaus, aka "An NFL Source," has pulled a lot of rabbits out of a lot of hats, and it's a good bet he'll stir up some suitors. But it remains to be seen if the Eagles are one of the teams interested.
A few other possible reasons the Eagles may not sign Burress when his jail term is up: The coaches feel that five-year veteran Jason Avant and second-year pro Riley Cooper can develop into very good red-zone threats.
Arguably the most physical of the Philly wideouts, Avant had a career-high 51 catches in 2010, although just one for a touchdown. A fifth-round pick in '10, Riley is 6-feet-5 and, while he posted just seven receptions in 13 games, figures to provide a different dimension to the receiving corps.
The Eagles also feel that former New York Giants second-rounder Sinorice Moss, signed in January after a career wracked by injury since 2006, can still be a player.
--Eagles coach Andy Reid said he expects the team to be aggressive in free agency whenever it happens.
In an appearance on Comcast SportsNet, Reid said, "(General manager) "Howie (Roseman) and I got the plan together. It's a good, aggressive plan. When they say go, we're ready to go. It's just a matter of that time coming forward."
Reid also said the coaching staff is putting together their plan for training camp, knowing it could have moving parts, depending on when the lockout ends.
"If it happens Day 1, that's great," Reid said. "We got a plan for that. If it happens a couple of weeks into camp we got that taken care of. If it happens right before the first game we got that taken care of. Anything else we don't need camp."
Because of the possibility, team activity could begin suddenly, Reid said it could affect the usual summer plans.
He said, "The coaches know that vacation this year will be a little bit different. You don't want to be taking camel rides in the Sahara Desert. You don't want to be doing those this year. Save those for another year and stay close within striking distance and you can come in here for a given time to knock out a three-day minicamp. All we have to do is put a date on it. We already got it written up, drawn up, (and) the books are ready."
Reid did note that preparation time will still be needed.
"The further it goes in, the worse the product. No matter how you cut this thing, you need time, in practice," he said. "You're bringing in guys who are working hard in the offseason on their own, but that's not like working hard in training camp.
"It's a great challenge for coaches, because we take a lot of pride in being good teachers. I've asked the coaches to go back and make sure they refine everything ... (Instruction has) got to come out, and it's got to be direct, specific, the players have to be able to visualize it."
New defensive coordinator Juan Castillo said everyone will be able to adjust, even rookies that might not have as much orientation time as normal.
"Football is football," he said. "You're responsible for a gap, whether it's at Oregon, whether it's at Connecticut, whether it's at Ohio State or whether it's Philadelphia. Football is really not a complex game. You're a MIKE linebacker, you've got the A gap or you've got the B gap."
Special teams coach Bobby April had another view.
"We don't do those minicamps, those OTAs, and all those sessions just for the heck of it," he said. "There's a reason why we have those things in ... We try to get the utmost out of it. There's a reason why we have that length of time in training camp, because that's really what it takes to put a product on the field, and even then it's always a work in progress.
"It does take a lot of time to put a good product out there, and if we're limited on time, I'm not going to say it's not going to be a good product, but again, repeating, we don't do those minicamps and OTAs for nothing."
--Wide receiver DeSean Jackson believes he will in for a contract extension when the lockout ends. Speaking of agent Drew Rosenhaus, Jackson said, "I know Drew has a plan and that's the biggest thing, because we really don't know when the lockout is going to end. Drew has been keeping me patient and motivating me and trying not to have me focus on my contract. That's' why I have him, so he can do his job and do what he needs to do, so me, as a player can feel confident and know he will do the best thing possible for me.
"I just really pray and hope that he works it out. I believe in him and know he can work it out for me. That's why he's Drew Rosenhaus. He gets paid to do what he needs to do. And that's' why in my eyes he's one of the best."
Asked whether he believes a new contract is merely a formality, Jackson said that Rosenhaus "will work it out. I know he's been keeping in good contact with the Eagles. So far, everything's been positive. I feel he has a pretty good relationship with the front office."
As for working out, Jackson said, "I'm just trying to keep myself in great shape. I'm working out with my coaches, the coaches who have been training me since I was a little kid. I'm trying to stay active in the community. I can't really sit around until the lockout is over. I need to try to do everything I can to be ready as an athlete when the lockout is over."
Commenting on the persistent rumors that quarterback Kevin Kolb will be traded when the lockout ends, Jackson said, "He's a great quarterback. He's young. He's a real down to earth guy. During my time with the Eagles, he's showed me he's so much of a leader and a very competitive guy. I really can't (know) his future. Whatever it is, I think he'll do great. I just wish him the best whether he stays with us or goes his own way."
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