The Browns have said they're not going to make a big splash in free agency. That might mean in terms of dollars. But they could still steal the headlines by bringing in former Giants receiver Plaxico Burress.
I've been saying the Browns should go after him for months, so now I'll finally publish these feelings. Burress might be the best bargain out there, considering he was released from prison on June 6 after being locked up for 20 months on gun charges.
The Browns know they need a No. 1 receiver. They may think they have one in rookie Greg Little or Mohamed Massaquoi. But I find it hard to believe that either has the physical ability of Burress, who is 6-foot-5.
Burress should be on his best behavior with the team that signs him. He's on probation for two years. He seemed humble when released and should have realized what the game meant to him while he was away. He has a family to support.
Yes, there are downsides. Burress turns 34 in August. He hasn't played since November, 2008, when he shot himself in the thigh with a handgun he brought into a New York City club. He was the one hosting the party in Pittsburgh when "the nicest guy ever arrested," former Browns defensive tackle Gerard Warren, was picked up on gun charges in 2002. The Browns have already been through the gun-in-their-airplane-carry-on escapades of Shaun Rogers and Robaire Smith.
But the Browns need to find a way to compete in the tough AFC North. They could give Burress an incentive-laden deal for one or two years. If he's still the same player, Burress could reach those kind of incentives easily. The Browns are going to need to pile up points during the transition to the 4-3 defense.
They may rule out Burress on character issues alone. (Just think, they could have had Michael Vick.) To win in 2011, signing Burress might be a risk worth taking.