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Wednesday, December 3, 2008
What does Plax stand to lose?


Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

Some of you have written to ask why the Giants didn't simply release wide receiver Plaxico Burress instead of suspending him and placing him on the reserve non-football injury list. Well, as Mike Garafolo explains in this helpful report in the Star-Ledger, the club has to wait for either the legal proceedings to end or the NFL to enforce its own suspension before attempting to go after any of Burress' income -- past or present.

And as writers such as John Clayton, Peter King and Garafolo have all pointed out, the Giants put together a pretty favorable contract -- for them. Of the $11.5 million in base salary, $3.5 million in reporting bonuses, $8.275 million in roster bonuses, $5 million in escalators and the $1.3 million in workout bonuses, none of it is guaranteed.

Burress' cap number for 2009 is $8.31 million. The Giants will save $2.45 million by releasing him, but you'll obviously end up with some serious dead money. Giants general managerJerry Reese hedged his bets with Burress, and that turned out to be a smart thing. The Giants voiced their concern for Burress' well-being Tuesday at the same time they were effectively planning his departure.

I still think the Giants can make it to the Super Bowl without Burress, but we're probably underestimating the impact his absence will make on the team during the playoffs. Domenik Hixon has emerged as a talented special teams player and improving receiver, but we'll see how he does when a defense gives him a lot more attention.

The bigger concern, though, is the status of linebacker Antonio Pierce. He's the emotional leader of the defense, and a suspension by the league or the team would put the Giants in a tough spot. Linebacker Chase Blackburn is a steady player, but he could get exposed if he's on the field too long.

I guess it's ridiculous to doubt the Giants' ability to overcome adversity at this point, but this latest batch is pretty remarkable. Losing Burress isn't a back-breaker, but it does make the path to the Super Bowl tougher.