|ESPN.com: BlogsColumns||[Print without images]|
When Plaxico Burress shot himself in the leg in November 2008, he shredded Tom Coughlin's chances of repeating as Super Bowl champion, leaving a sour taste that still lingers in the New York Giants organization today.
Yet this week, Burress and Coughlin will talk about the wide receiver's potential return to the team.
"It's going to be crazy," Burress told the Newark Star-Ledger on Tuesday night about a face-to-face meeting with his old coach. "I really don't know what I'm going to say. I'm just going to go in there and speak from the heart, be truthful with him and let him know how I feel.
"Whatever comes out is going to come out. I'm pretty sure there are things he wants to say, too."
So why would the Giants consider going down the Plaxico road again?
|Eli Manning has said he'd welcome Plaxico Burress back. What matters now is how Tom Coughlin and Burress feel about each other.|
Because for Coughlin, it's simple. He wants to and needs to win. The coach hasn't sniffed the postseason since Burress was on the team, going 18-14 the past two seasons while the wide receiver was in prison on a gun charge.
Burress, who turns 34 on Aug. 12, wasn't exactly Coughlin's favorite player, despite scoring the winning touchdown in the Giants' Super Bowl XLII upset win over the New England Patriots. The wideout was fined numerous times for violating team rules and told ESPN's Stephen A. Smith in an interview last month that his relationship with Coughlin was frosty at best.
As Burress succinctly put it, he rebelled at times against Coughlin because he did not like the coach's approach.
And in several interviews since, Burress has stressed the importance of finding a head coach he can relate to.
But perhaps this odd couple can put aside their differences in a heart-to-heart meeting and reunite for another Super Bowl run.
John Mara might be able to broker peace between the two. After all, the Giants' co-owner was able to help NFL owners and players finally reach a deal to end the lockout.
No matter what happens, Burress and Coughlin should have plenty to talk about.
"I'm pretty sure when we meet, when we sit down face-to-face, we're going to lay it all on the table, man to man," Burress told the paper. "That's what this whole thing is about. That's where I'm at. If there's a time for everything to be let out, it's now."
What do the Giants really have to lose by bringing Burress back? Unlike other free agents the Giants could potentially bring in, Burress knows the system, is familiar with the locker room and has Super Bowl-winning chemistry with quarterback Eli Manning.
No one knows what kind of shape Burress will be in after such a long layoff, but he would give Manning a massive target in the red zone again and defenses will have to account for him, Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham.
He also would give the Giants another playmaker in case Steve Smith, a free agent the Giants want to bring back, isn't ready to return to form following delicate microfracture knee surgery.
And one thing several players have pointed out: With Burress in blue, the Giants wouldn't have to worry about the 6-foot-5 receiver catching TD passes for a rival -- like, say, the Philadelphia Eagles.
And even if the whole thing were to blow up and not work out, the Giants don't have to rely on Burress the way they did in 2008. They have another playmaker in Nicks; Burress would be complementing what they already have.
News of the Giants talking to Burress certainly had to be music to a few players' ears Tuesday. Numerous Giants, from Justin Tuck to Brandon Jacobs to Osi Umenyiora, have campaigned for Burress' return all offseason.
Manning said he would welcome Burress back if the Giants deemed he was committed to winning. The Giants will have to figure that out as they continue to free up cap space. They spent their Tuesday talking to Burress and trying to get under the salary cap.
They are expected to part ways with center Shaun O'Hara and guards Rich Seubert and Shawn Andrews this week. And late Tuesday night, ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter reported that Barry Cofield had come to terms with the Washington Redskins.
O'Hara and Seubert were informed that they will be released, according to sources. Both longtime starters are recovering from offseason surgeries. With backup center Adam Koets coming off surgery as well, the Giants will be in the market for offensive linemen.
Andrews tweeted that he could not come to an agreement with the Giants to restructure his contract, which is slated for $7.5 million this season. Andrews -- who was solid when healthy but missed three games last year because of back issues -- did not rule out a potential return at a lower price but thanked general manager Jerry Reese and Mara.
It is uncertain whether O'Hara and Seubert would return as well, but a source made it sound unlikely. O'Hara was due $3.45 million in base salary while Seubert was scheduled to make $2.25 million in base salary.
The Giants also were trying to modify defensive tackle Rocky Bernard's contract, according to a source who confirmed a report by the Newark Star-Ledger. Bernard's base salary for this season is $2.95 million.
Clearly the Giants are trying to create enough space to re-sign their own free agents, such as running back Ahmad Bradshaw, defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka and tight end Kevin Boss. And they'll need money to go shopping for other free agents.
Reese always has a plan -- and the first step is for Coughlin to meet with Burress and resolve their differences in a sitdown that seemed unlikely just a few months ago.