So what distinguished the Jets from the Steelers, Giants, and 49ers when it came to wooing Plaxico Burress?
None of the other teams had Rex Ryan.
Per a source with knowledge of the process, it was “all about Rex” for Plaxico. Though it didn’t hurt that the one-year, $3 million guaranteed contract also represented the best financial package placed on the table, it was the total package and Ryan’s presence — and pitch — got it done.
Ryan sold Burress on the coach’s belief that Plaxico can get them over the top, just as he helped get the Giants over the top four years ago.
Though we’d previously believed the Giants were possibly kicking tires on Burress to protect themselves against criticism if he went to a team like the Jets or Eagles and became a star again, we’re told that the Giants were indeed serious.
But not as serious as the Jets.
In the end, it turns out that Burress was accurate in his assessment of his priorities earlier this month, when talking with our friends Adam Schein and Rich Gannon of SiriusXM NFL Radio.
“Well, the head coach is going to be first and foremost,” Burress said. “It’s going to be somebody to where, well, you know, he has an open door policy, I can walk in his office and sit down and talk to him whether it’s about football or life or whatever that may be. Then, of course, second, it’s going to be a quarterback. I’m a wide receiver. I mean, that’s a no brainer. I’m not going to sit here and say it’s not. And surround myself with guys that are hungry and guys that know how to play and want to win.”
On Saturday, Burress gushed specifically about Ryan in comments to Mike Garafolo of the Newark Star-Ledger. “I think he’s great,” Burress said of Rex Ryan. “He stands behind his players, I think his players have a lot of respect for him and they play hard for him. . . . He’s a great coach, great personality. He seems like he’s always upbeat.”
So the Jets have everything that Burress was looking for. And they think he gives them what they need to get what they’ve been striving for.
So instead of a formidable one-two punch at cornerback with Darrelle Revis and Nnamdi Asomugha, the Jets will unleash a potent combination of Burress and Santonio Holmes, six weeks from tonight on NBC.