A little bit of a stir was caused this week when wide receiver Plaxico Burress said that he would be interested in playing with the Carolina Panthers. It seems like every off-season a free agent in the wide receiver pool emerges as a name of interest for the Panthers, and why should this year be any different. With that being said, let’s look at some of the Panthers’ possible post-draft moves.
Of course, wide receiver is always a position where the Panthers feel they can upgrade. Carolina took Joe Adams in the fourth round, but I see Adams as more of a speed man who will play on special teams and handle most of the return duties. Adams is a small, scrappy speed guy, which we of course have already in Steve Smith. Smith was also brought in as a return man originally, and if Adams turns out to be the player that Smith is in a couple years we may in fact have the heir apparent. That is a project for down the road, and for now Smitty is of course our speed receiver. What the Panthers do need is a big body that can distract coverage and help Smith to get open.
Now Brandon LaFell had a decent season last year with 36 receptions for 613 yards and 3 touchdowns, but he is not scaring any secondaries. At 6’2” he is not really the big body that I am speaking of. David Gettis will be returning from injury this year and we still don’t really know what we have in him. Gettis could emerge as the threat we need on the other side of Smith, but it’s hard to really know since we haven’t seen him in a year and we don’t know how he and Cam Newton will gel. Here is where the Burress rumors become interesting.
Plaxico is a huge target at 6’5”, he has the ability to cause match-up nightmares. He is a beast in the red zone. It would be very interesting to see the Panthers line up with Burress, Smith, Gettis, Olsen, Williams/Stewart, and Tolbert first and ten from the twelve. Of course Burress has had his share of off the field issues, like that little incident where he shot himself and had to go to prison for a while, but since returning from his time in lock up he has been rather mild-mannered. Burress seemed even to be a non-distraction in a New York Jets locker room that wasn’t anything less than a three-ring circus. Plaxico’s 45 receptions for 612 yards and 8 touchdowns is not a long-term answer to our questions at the receiver position, but it would for sure add a much needed element to our offense.
Now in the past Carolina has shied away from big name free agent receivers, particularly ones with off the field issues. In fact, since Keyshawn Johnson I can’t think of any major acquisition free agent wide receiver. I think the Plaxico Burress project could prove to be a high-risk, high-reward move, but let’s be honest: he is a way better option than Armanti Edwards. It seems like the Panthers are open to signing some depth at receiver, as they were in talks with former Texan Jacoby Jones before he was signed by the Ravens earlier this week. Some other interesting names are also out there at the receiver position, like Patrick Crayton, Braylon Edwards, and Mike Sims-Walkers. I believe Burress would be the best fit in Carolina.
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