Frustrated by a sluggish courtship, unrestricted free agent wide receiver Plaxico Burress might consider signing a one-year contract if he doesn't receive what he considers to be a market-value proposal on a long-term deal, according to his agent.
"It's definitely a possibility," agent Michael Harrison said Tuesday night. "If people are going to lowball him, I could see doing a one-year deal, sending him to a team where 'Plax' would catch a lot of balls and then going back [into free agency] next year. I could insure him [heavily], so that he's taken care of if he is injured, and do a one-year deal."
Under such a scenario, Burress would hope to have a big season in 2005, then go back into the unrestricted market next spring, theoretically as a more attractive target for teams seeking to upgrade their wide receiver situation.
Harrison made the remarks during a stopover while en route to New York, where he and Burress were to meet Wednesday with Giants officials and coaches. Burress had to cancel a meeting set for Monday with the Giants, the only visit he currently has scheduled, when he became ill with the flu.
There have been reports, including one by ESPN.com last Friday, that New York officials have proposed a six-year contract worth $20 million-$21 million, with a signing bonus of about $4 million. Harrison would not comment specifically on those numbers. He said the sides are closer than people suspect, but still not close enough to close a deal.
It is believed that Burress and Harrison are seeking a contract similar to the one former Carolina Panthers wide receiver Muhsin Muhammad signed with the Chicago Bears two weeks ago. In that deal, Muhammad, released by the Panthers for salary cap reasons after a Pro Bowl season in 2004, signed a six-year contract that could be worth $30 million, and which includes $12 million in guarantees.
No matter the numbers, the dearth of interest in Burress, who played the first five years of his career with the Pittsburgh Steelers, has been one of the most puzzling elements of the opening week of the free agency period. While he experienced some off-field problems in the past, Burress seemed to mature in 2004, when the combination of a run-heavy offense and a rookie starting quarterback limited him to 35 catches, the fewest since his rookie season in 2000.
In a reversal of character, Burress didn't chafe about the offense, made himself a solid down-field blocker, and spoke of team goals above personal performance.
His expectations clearly were that he would be one of the most coveted players in the unrestricted pool, and would strike a quick and lucrative agreement. But Harrison has been forced to initiate contact with most of the teams that have discussed his client as a possibility. While other wide receivers have scored contracts from new clubs, many of them for big money, Burress has generated little buzz. Beyond the Giants, about the only other team to acknowledge interest in the five-year veteran is Minnesota, and the Vikings have said they will only get involved if Burress reduces his contract desires.
"We're not going to do something stupid just for the sake of doing it," Harrison said. "We'll come up with something to make it work for 'Plax,' believe me."
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. To check out Len's chat archive, click here.