The Jets have been linked to Plaxico Burress for some time now without anything in the way of official confirmation of interest from the team. That changed on the set of Boomer Esiason's television show when the former Jets quarterback interviewed team owner Woody Johnson.
"We don’t know what his current status, both legally and from a league standpoint, and until those are cleared up, we look at him like any other player—we look at the talent, if there is talent, which there is with Plaxico, but there is with other talent around as well," Johnson told Esiason. "When those two questions are answered, then we’ll proceed to the next level. Otherwise, basically it’s a holding pattern."
It's not a banner proclaiming intent to sign, but it's very different from the previous party line of being happy with the current receiving corps. Problem is, those two questions are no closer to being answered today than they were two weeks or two months ago.
Burress' lawyer and agent have said repeatedly that he won't go on trial for weapons charges in 2009 which would make him available for the entire football season. In the past, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has expressed unwillingness to suspend players before they're convicted of a first offense. That doesn't mean he wouldn't punish Burress, but it plays into the idea that the lack of a 2009 trial or plea bargain would leave Burress free to play a full schedule.
Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau said last week that a grand jury would hear the case in July, a change in direction after months without much movement toward an indictment. If they return an indictment quickly, a 2009 trial becomes much more likely, and, as a result, Burress' future is cast in greater doubt.
There's no question that Burress would help the Jets offense in 2009. He's a talented receiver who demands defensive attention and opens up the field for his teammates. But, as the Giants learned last season, those traits only help you if he's actually on the field.
Burress thought that pushing off any conclusion to his legal proceedings, he'd be more likely to be on the field this season. That may backfire, making Burress a double victim of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.