With the passing game dominating the NFL, surely somebody still could use the services of veteran receivers Terrell Owens, Chad Ochocinco, Randy Moss and Plaxico Burress. But if given a choice, which has the most to offer? Our experts make their case.
<table align="right" width="315px"> <tbody> <tr> <td> <content:static src="/widgets/custom/packages/latest_debates.html"></content:static></td> </tr> </tbody> </table> Plaxico Burress probably has more to offer than the other veteran receivers because he has every bit as much talent as the others, but the time he has spent away from the game while in prison gives him fresh legs. He also has the added motivation of wanting to show the Giants and every other team that doesn't sign him that he still can make a significant impact. Burress' most productive role would be as an over-the-middle and red-zone target, which allows him to take full advantage of his considerable size, strength and athleticism.
We don't know what Burress has left after being out of football for the past two seasons. We do know what the others can do, and Owens doesn't appear to be slowing down a bit. He still gets deep, he still gets open on intermediate routes, and he can still make big plays. Sure, he's got some issues, but his work ethic and production can't be questioned. If he lands in the right situation, he could be a difference maker while also putting up the types of numbers that will keep him focused.
Of these former great receivers still trying to prove they can play at an elite level, you have to go with the most recent history as the best indicator. So when you look at T.O., Moss, Ochocinco, and Burress ask these questions: Who caught the most passes in 2010? T.O. Who had the most receiving yards in 2010? T.O. Who had the most receiving touchdowns in 2010? You guessed it: T.O. Who had the most yards after catch? Once again, T.O. Who had the most 25-plus yard plays? T.O. Who is the oldest of the crowd? T.O. But I still might sign Santana Moss before any of these guys and avoid the potential headache.
The receiver with the most still to offer in 2011 is Chad Ochocinco. The doubters are numerous, even in his own organization (witness first round pick, wide receiver A.J. Green), but I believe he has plenty left in the tank and should be sufficiently motivated. Randy Moss? I wonder if he can still run. Plaxico Burress? It's hard to envision his legs returning after such a long layoff and approaching 35. T.O.? Even as he pushes inches closer to 40, I marvel at his conditioning and believe that after Ochocinco, he still has the most to offer, especially a contender in need of a No. 2 or No. 3 receiver. The key would be T.O. coming to terms with that designation.
This is such a tough call, but for this season I would say Owens has the most left to give. He stays in sick shape and has shown that he can still get separation. He might not go over the middle as fearlessly as he used to, but considering he fell only 17 yards short of a 1,000 last season despite missing nearly three full games to injury, .the guy clearly hasn't lost it yet.
Down the road? You would think a rusty-for-now Burress. With his size and ball skills, he is less reliant on speed than Ochocinco, who has lost a step. Burress will get his game back, not to mention having pro football taken away from him for two years should translate into him being more determined a la Michael Vick.