- The Washington Times - Monday, June 15, 2009

NEW YORK (AP) - Former New York Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress is negotiating with several NFL teams to return to pro football this season after a judge delayed his trial Monday on gun possession charges.

Burress made a brief appearance in court Monday, accompanied by his wife and attorney Benjamin Brafman. Judge Felicia Mennin adjourned the case until Sept. 23.

Outside court Monday, Brafman said it was “inconceivable” that Burress would face trial on the charge before 2010, said several teams were trying to sign his client, and “physically he’s in the best shape of his life. He’s ready to play.”

Burress’ agent, Drew Rosenhaus, posted on Twitter Monday that he hopes to have a deal with an NFL team for Burress before training camp starts, and said he’s confident the NFL won’t have grounds to discipline Burress until after his case is processed in court.

Brafman said he didn’t think the case would be resolved through a plea agreement, that prosecutors would take it to a grand jury, and that Burress would plead not guilty if the case went to trial.

“There is not a victim in this case except Plaxico Burress,” he said.

Burress shot himself in the thigh Nov. 29 in a Manhattan nightclub. He was charged with criminal possession of a weapon and faces up to 3 1/2 years in prison. Burress has pleaded not guilty and is free on $100,000 bail.

Burress caught the game-winning touchdown for the Giants in the 2008 Super Bowl. He is a free agent after the team released him April 3.

While Burress is free to sign with any team, the unresolved legal matter could make teams reluctant to add the talented player. In addition, even if he ultimately does not serve any time in jail on the weapons charge _ most first-time offenders in similar cases in New York City do not _ he could face disciplinary action by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell under the league’s personal conduct policy.

But veteran 6-foot-5 receivers with a proven ability to stretch a defense are a valuable commodity in the NFL. The New York Jets acknowledged publicly they had contacted Burress’ agent, Drew Rosenhaus, to inquire about him before the NFL draft in April.

With the criminal case dragging on at least three more months and possibly longer, establishing Burress’ value may be a challenge for interested teams.

The Giants had signed Burress to a five-year, $35 million contract extension in September. The team later withheld $1 million after the shooting and the NFL Players Association filed a grievance on Burress’ behalf. A special master ruled that the Giants had to pay Burress because the money was a signing bonus he earned upon agreeing to the contract extension and could not be withheld for future conduct.

Burress has 505 career receptions for 7,845 yards and 55 touchdowns in nine seasons with the Giants and Pittsburgh Steelers.

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