Giants Cut Plaxico Burress: In a surprise move, the Giants announced yesterday that they have waived WR Plaxico Burress. Burress accidentally shot himself in a Manhattan nightclub in late November 2008. He missed the rest of the season and is currently facing possible jail time for two felony weapons charges.
“I think the Giants made a huge mistake, speaking as both his lawyer and a Giants fan,” said Burress’ attorney.
For the last couple of months, General Manager Jerry Reese had said he would be willing to have Burress return to the Giants if Burress cleared legal hurdles, was healthy, and demonstrated an improved attitude.
“I am an optimist, and I believe most situations can be worked out,” said General Manager Jerry Reese. “We hung in there as long as we could in hopes that there could be a resolution to this situation other than the decision we made today to release Plaxico. It wasn’t to be, so now we have to move on. Like everybody else here, we want nothing but the best for Plaxico, and we are appreciative of the contributions he made to this franchise.”
“Plaxico’s contribution to our championship season in 2007 can never be underestimated or undervalued,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin. “He displayed tremendous determination throughout that season. Having said that, I have always been as concerned about Plaxico as a man as I have been about him as a player, and my hope is that everything that has happened over the past several months represents a turning point. He is a young man with a family who has a whole lifetime ahead of him, and I personally wish him and his family well.”
Earlier this year, the NFLPA and Burress filed a grievance against the Giants for withholding a $1 million signing bonus payment in December 2008. Future bonuses and escalators were also at stake. Various press reports say that the Giants attempted to settle the grievance with Burress, but to no avail. Apparently, the Giants also asked Burress to sign a new contract before an arbitration hearing last week, but Burress refused. The Daily News reports that the new deal would have kept Burress under contract in 2009 but possibly nullified the remainder of his contract. The New York Post is reporting that the new deal would have provided Burress a chance to make up all future money that he had in his current deal, but not money he had already forfeited by being penalized by the team. Burress signed a 5-year, $35 million contract extension last offseason.
“His attitude was, ‘I don’t owe them anything, they owe me,’” one source told The Post.
The Daily News also reports that the Giants believed that Burress’ attitude was not improving. “Jerry (Reese) has said all along that if everything works out and Plax demonstrates he wants to be here with a desire to be part of this thing, (then) yes, we want him back,” said an unidentified source. “Well, the fact is that we’ve been given no reason to think things will be any different in the future than they have been in the past.”
The Giants were angered by the e-mail sent out in February to other teams by Burress’ agent that Burress was available by trade. In addition, The New York Post reports that members of the Giants’ organization called and sent text messages to Burress, but none were returned. “Plax does not want to be here,” one source told The Daily News. “That sentiment…has been expressed consistently in the ensuing months.”
DE Justin Tuck says Burress will be missed on the field. “Anytime you have a 6-5 wide receiver that can stretch the field and open up things for your running game and make those catches across the middle that force a defense to defend…and now you don’t have that, you’re going to feel that,” said Tuck.
“We understand the business part of it,” said Tuck. “We as a team, a coaching staff and an organization wanted Plaxico back. There’s no question about that. We wouldn’t have handled this as long as we have if we didn’t want him back. But I think Jerry (Reese) and Coach Coughlin and the people that make these decisions have realized that we might need to move on. Is that the right decision? Who knows? But time will tell.”
The Giants originally signed Burress as an unrestricted free agent during the 2005 offseason. In four regular seasons with the Giants, Burress caught 244 passes for 3,681 yards and 33 touchdowns.