Saturday, June 11, 2011
NFL Teams Sift Through Long List Of Parolees And Degenerates For Talent
Even though NFL teams are supposed to be largely inactive during the lockout, they still keep abreast of news that is filled with football players being arrested, released from jail, or carrying the weight of questionable character in their pasts.
As soon as the lockout ends, most of these players will be invited into a training camp somewhere. The hope is to try and squeeze one drama free season out of them, as well as production on the gridiron.
While the list may get longer with oft-troubled wide receiver Kenny Britt, there are still plenty of specimens to choose from.
Over the next few weeks, we will profile a few that is followed by their possible destinations whenever the NFL resumes play.
He will be 34-years old if the NFL has a 2011 season. He just got released from jail after having served two years incarcerated on weapons charges.
Burress might take awhile to get into shape physically and mentally, an area he has mostly struggled in throughout his career, but the wide receiver still stands 6'5" and weighs at least 232 lbs. He has experience on winning teams and owns a Super Bowl ring.
Though the team he last played for, the New York Giants, has never said he wasn't welcome back, it looks more unlikely these days because that team is loaded with young receivers full of talent.
With 505 receptions since being drafted in 2000, it is obvious he had many productive seasons. Teams will gamble he has a few left until Father Time steps in.
There will be a pretty long line of suitors, especially since Burress is expected to be on his best behavior to avoid returning to prison.
Here are a few teams that may be the best fit for him :
Why Carolina? Simple. It is not that far from his family and friends in southern Virginia and the Panthers wouldn't mind seeing him and veteran Steve Smith help 2011 top draft pick Cam Newton.
Smith has not had help since Muhsin Muhammad retired several years ago, and he has battled injuries the past few seasons. Having the large Burress opposite the diminutive Smith might be appealing for both the Panthers and Newton.
The rich get richer? It is possible, especially with fellow ex-convict Michael Vick pleading with the front office to sign him. Vick is now the Eagles starting quarterback, so carrying such weight could impact this move.
Having DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin at wide receiver already, Philadelphia already has one of the top duos in the league. That is even before tight end Brent Celek is added into the mix.
Burress would give the Eagles that tall wide receiver, since Maclin is six-foot tall and Jackson stands somewhere around 5'10" and weighs maybe 175 lbs. Though Maclin and Jackson are huge threats, Burress would immediately become the teams top red-zone option.
Plus having Vick play catch with Burress would remind fans of the movie "The Longest Yard". Who can resist that?
Saint Louis Rams
Yes, the Rams have young receivers like Donnie Avery, Austin Pettis, Marty Gilyard, and Greg Salas for sophomore quarterback Sam Bradford to chuck it to. Free agents Danny Amendola, Mark Clayton, and Laurent Robinson might have a shot of returning as well.
Yet most of these receivers are small in stature. Getting Bradford, the 2010 Offensive Rookie of the Year, a tall target could help a lot. Critics believe Burress will only go to a team with a chance to win their division, something the Rams almost pulled off last year.
Burress could get them over a tiny hump that exists in the weak NFC West. It could also help buy some time as their young receivers develop.
Then there is the fact that Burress probably will not get in trouble in Saint Louis, as the team seems to never have players in trouble with the law in that city.
A long shot, but Burress did grow up in Norfolk, Virginia. The Redskins have also been searching for a tall receiver since Hall of Famer Art Monk left after 1993.
The team might not be ready to compete for the NFC East, so Washington might have little shot at Burress even if they are interested and have an owner known for paying heavily for veteran free agents.
Even if Burress grew up a Redskins fan, which so many young men in Virginia have.
Get ready to see this team listed often. Raiders Hall of Fame owner Al Davis loves to take chances on players with questionable character, something he has come out smelling like a rose more often than not.
The current group of Raiders receivers could certainly use a boost in talent as well. There are a lot of speedsters, but none are the hulking presence that Burress is.
New York Jets
Why? Head coach Rex Ryan plays by his own rules and will do what is needed to get his team to the Super Bowl.
Starting receivers Braylon Edwards and Santonio Holmes are free agents that may be the Jets top priority, but Burress would help whether both are signed or not. Plus Burress lives in New Jersey, so he wouldn't have to uproot his family that has been reacquainting themselves with him lately.
Then there is the plight of Pryor. The 6'6" quarterback recently withdrew from college and there is speculation he will try his hand at professional football this year.
Regardless of whatever charges Ohio State or Pryor may face down the road from NCAA rules infractions, the size and athleticism will have a team intrigued enough to look at him.
He is a project with suspect mechanics that will take time to refine. Murmurs of his lack of character will be put through a test if he wants to get to the next level. A team will have to be patient, as Pryor will need to be as well.
He has already rejected the advances of the Canadian Football League, even though the wide open CFL game may be the best fit for his game right now. The UFL may be an option to play a game similar to the NFL while learning his position more.
Though there are certainly no guarantees he could earn a starting job in the UFL, some speculate Pryor will sit this season out and put is name into the 2012 NFL Draft. Then there is a chance he is involved in a supplemental draft or try to latch onto a team via free agency.
Assuming he is allowed to sign with any team as a free agent, the questions begs on who would give him a shot.
Here are a few possibilities :
The Bengals quarterback situation is still up in the air because no one knows where starter Carson Palmer will play when play resumes. Palmer has made it quite clear he has no intention returning to Cincinnati.
The cerebral Andy Dalton was drafted in 2011, but he has questionable arm strength and athleticism. If Palmer leaves, the current quarterbacks on the Bengals roster is Dalton and the untested Dan LeFevour.
Even if the Bengals re-sign Jordan Palmer, Carson's little brother, they will then have three quarterbacks with no real NFL experience.
If Carson Palmer comes back to the Bengals, taking a flier on Pryor certainly could not hurt. The worst that can happen is they cut him, while the best scenario is that one day Pryor marries his abilities with the mechanics he will soon be taught.
Again, Al Davis loves outcasts. He also loves excellent athletes. Pryor is certainly both right now.
He could put Pryor at third-string to learn behind veterans Jason Campbell and Bruce Gradkowski as Oakland takes their time learning what type of player Pryor will eventually be.
Pryor grew up not too far away from Pittsburgh and the Steelers do like to mold a young quarterback as a third-string player. Ask Dennis Dixon, a player no one wanted because of an injury in college during his senior year. Dixon, now a free agent, started a few games and earned a Super Bowl ring.
Men like Jim Miller started out in Pittsburgh before becoming productive starters elsewhere. With veteran Brian Leftwich as the primary reserve. maybe molding Pryor will more of an attractive scenario than bringing back Dixon?
John Skelton showed promise in his 2010 rookie year, as did Max Hall, but it still is unknown if either can hold onto the starting job at quarterback. Derek Anderson's confidence appears shot as well.
This could be one of the few NFL teams Pryor has a shot at starting right away. Especially if Skelton and Hall play poorly. Arizona appears to be a team Carson Palmer may want to go to.
The Cardinals also may be one of the teams willing to spend a few years developing Pryor, so this could be a good fit. Especially if Pryor becomes the player some think he can be.