Thursday, March 17, 2005
Burress signs six-year deal for $25 million
By Len Pasquarelli ESPN.com
Once again, agent Drew Rosenhaus, arguably the premier dealmaker in the NFL, has pulled a rabbit out of a hat.
Just one week after abruptly breaking off contract negotiations with Plaxico Burress, the New York Giants on Thursday evening signed the free agent wide receiver to a six-year, $25 million contract, ESPN.com has learned.
Burress and Rosenhaus, the agent retained by the veteran wideout in an effort to fan his flagging market value, flew to New York early Thursday morning to meet with Giants coaches and team officials. The trip came after Rosenhaus persuaded the New York brass to revisit its interest in the former Pittsburgh Steelers starter.
The deal includes $8.25 million in guaranteed bonuses, an initial signing bonus of $5 million and then a $3.25 option bonus due next spring. There are also guaranteed salaries in the first two seasons. Burress will earn $11.38 million in the first two seasons of the contract and $14.6 million in the first three years.
So, in essence, Rosenhaus convinced the Giants to not only reinstate the offer they made to his newest client last week, but to increase it in several key areas.
Last Thursday afternoon, Giants general manager Ernie Accorsi announced in a tersely-worded statement posted on the club's web site that the franchise was ending its pursuit of the unrestricted free agent wide receiver and going in a different direction. That came after Burress rejected a six-year, $24 million contract proposal that included a two-tiered bonus totaling $8 million.
The Giants apparently were angered at the time by several things. In addition to Burress dismissing what they felt was a market value deal, even with few other suitors interested in him, the five-year veteran refused to take a physical exam. Sources said that one of the first things Burress did Thursday, upon arriving at team headquarters was take a physical.
Certainly Burress, who figures to team with Amani Toomer in the starting lineup, will represent an upgrade to the Giants wide receiver corps. The team recently released former starter Ike Hilliard and has been seeking a veteran wideout.
In recent days, the Giants had discussed the possibility of signing other veteran wide receivers, notably Corey Bradford of Houston and former Chicago Bears first-rounder David Terrell.
Unable to strike a deal in the first two weeks of the signing period, Burress on Saturday terminated his relationship with agent Michael Harrison and retained Rosenhaus to represent him. Rosenhaus is the fifth agent Burress has had since entering the league, and the third this year.
But according to NFL Players Association guidelines, a player must wait five days after dismissing his agent to retain new representation. So Rosenhaus did not officially become the agent of record for Burress until Thursday, when the two men filed what is known as a standard representation agreement with the NFLPA offices.
Burress, who played the first five seasons of his career with the Steelers, was essentially back to square one in a free agent market that is two weeks old. But he was counting on Rosenhaus, and the influence the Miami-based agent enjoys leaguewide, to heat up the heretofore tepid interest in his services.
Rosenhaus quickly delivered by arranging the visit with the Giants then also negotiating the contract in speedy fashion.
Certainly the dearth of interest in Burress has been perhaps the most mystifying element of the early free agency period, with Harrison forced to initiate contact with clubs in an attempt to create a market. Just hours after talks with the Giants collapsed last Thursday, Burress flew Minneapolis to meet with the Vikings, but he departed on Sarturday with no concrete contract offer.
For his career, Burress has 261 receptions for 4,166 yards and 20 touchdowns. His best season was in '01, when Burress had 66 catches for 1,008 yards and six scores.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.