- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 4, 2009

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) - After taking four months in the wake of his shooting to decide that troubled receiver Plaxico Burress didn’t fit into their plans, general manager Jerry Reese and the New York Giants have roughly three weeks to decide whether they can find a deep threat in the NFL draft.

Reese did not return an e-mail on Saturday, seeking comment on how the Giants would replace the man who caught the game-winning touchdown pass in the Super Bowl victory over the then-undefeated New England Patriots in February 2008.

However, there is no doubt the team will not miss Burress’ off the field problems, tardiness and unwillingness to follow the rules.

The draft on April 25 will provide some interesting options for replacing Burress. New York has the 29th pick overall, but it also has 10 picks with two in each of the second and third rounds.

It is unlikely that Michael Crabtree of Texas Tech, Jeremy Maclin of Missouri and possibly Percy Harvin of Florida will be available when the Giants select, but they should have a shot at either Kenny Britt of Rutgers or Hakeem Nicks of North Carolina if they do not make a move.

Reese would have to dangle a package of draft picks to move up for the top-line group, but Crabtree and Maclin may be worth it.

Crabtree had 231 receptions for 3,127 yards and 41 touchdowns in two years of college. Maclin, who also only played two seasons, had 102 of his 182 catches this past season with 13 going for TDs.

While a dynamic player, Harvin is a combination running back and receiver and he may not fit what the Giants need.

Britt and Nicks both could fit nicely.

Of all the receivers, Britt is more in the Burress mold, at least sizewise. He is 6-foot-4, an inch smaller than Burress and he gave Rutgers its deep threat the past three years with 178 receptions and 17 touchdowns. He had his best season this past year with 87 catches for 1,371 yards and seven TDs.

Nicks had a better average than Britt this past season. He had 68 catches for 1,222 yards, an 18.0 yard average, and 12 touchdowns. He is also an outstanding returner.

Reese also might consider some trade for a veteran. He talked briefly with Cleveland recently about a trade for veteran receiver Braylon Edwards.

There is also a chance that Arizona might want to part with Anquan Boldin, who was unhappy with the NFC champion Cardinals late in the season.

Reese has said he likes the group of receivers on the current roster but they would have to improve to give Eli Manning a consistent deep threat.

Steve Smith led the team with 57 catches for 574 yards last season, but he is more of a possession receiver and he had only one touchdown. While Domenik Hixon led the team with 596 receiving yards, he dropped a couple of deep passes and had only two TDs in 15 games.

Mario Manningham, who played in only eight games as a rookie, had four catches for 26 yards and no touchdowns.

Despite getting double coverage, Burress was the key to the offense, catching 35 passes for 454 yards and four TDs.

The Giants had an 10-1 record when Burress accidentally shot himself in the thigh in late November in a New York City nightclub.

After winning days after the shooting, the Giants suspended Burress for the final four weeks of the regular season, fined him and withheld a $1 million portion of his signing bonus that was due in December.

Once the season ended, Reese said he would welcome Burress back under certain circumstances.

Tensions between the player and the team mounted when Burress’ agent Drew Rosenhaus sent an e-mail in February saying Burress could be acquired in a trade.

The Giants were willing to rework Burress’ contract so he could earn most of the $30 million in non-guaranteed money left on the $35 million deal that he signed in September. However, they refused to throw in the money that he lost as a result of his suspension.

When Burress refused that deal and a settlement the team offered on the grievance of the signing bonus, the Giants’ patience with Burress expired and he was released on Friday.

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