This is the 47th in a series of scouting reports on key players who are expected to become free agents on March 13, unless they are re-signed before then.
News: Burress tied for the Jets' team lead in touchdowns in his first NFL season since 2008, but reports indicate he will hit the open market in March. GM Mike Tannenbaum did have high praise for Burress in his end-of-season press conference on Jan. 2: "He did a great job for us. I thought his blocking, he did a really good job with that, (and) obviously (he) helped us in the red zone," Tannenbaum said. "He was very insightful on the teams we were playing. I enjoyed picking his brain. He's really an interesting guy and he was a really good teammate. I was glad he was on the team. Free agency is a couple of months away, so we'll look at everything." While in Indianapolis for Super Bowl week, Burress' comments, or lack thereof, to the New York Post made it seem like it was truly a one-year lease with the Jets. When asked about QB Mark Sanchez, Burress simply said, "Mark Sanchez is Mark Sanchez." The Jets' locker room? "The Jets' locker room is the Jets' locker room," he said. When it came to his impending free agency, Burress said, "I don't know what's going to happen. It's a business first. I'll evaluate my options going into the offseason and I'll make my decision based on that." Later that week, Howard Eskin of NBC 10 in Philadelphia tweeted that Burress wants to play for the Eagles. Burress turns 35 years old in August.
Notes: Burress returned to the NFL in 2011 after nearly two years in prison on a gun charge. He played in all 16 games with the Jets in 2011 with 13 starts, totaling 45 catches for 612 yards and eight touchdowns, though he had two games without a catch and two with only one. Three of his TDs came in one game. For his career, Burress has four 1,000-yard receiving seasons. His best year came in 2002 with the Steelers, when he totaled 78-1,325-7. He caught the game-winning touchdown for the Giants in Super Bowl XLII.
Positives: At 6-5, 232 pounds, Burress is a great red-zone and sideline target with his ability to go up and catch the ball. As Tannenbaum mentioned, he is very adept at blocking downfield. He didn't show as much rust as people expected after having been out of the game for more than two seasons.
Negatives: Nearing the age of 35, there has to be a question of how much Burress has left in the tank. He stayed out of trouble while with the Jets, but that doesn't mean there isn't a red flag or research that needs to be done by a potential suitor before it makes the investment. Burress was very hot and cold in terms of productivity. He had a few injuries during training camp and the season.
Risk factor: Moderate to high. Last offseason, Burress had a high risk on him because it was unknown how a player fresh off almost two years in prison would perform. After one season back in the league, there are fewer questions about his contributions on and off the field. But his age and durability bring risk. Teams can't expect much more than a possession and red-zone receiver, though he showed he still can be effective in those areas.