Behold the power of brands. A big part of the reason the media and other like to talk about Plaxico Burress and the rest of the oldster wide receivers out there on the free agent market is that at one point in time these guys were established receivers. Ergo, said thirtysomething wide receivers would erase the question marks for a team needing help at the position, like the St. Louis Rams. In reality these guys just replace the receiver questions the Rams already have with other questions.
Right now, the biggest question for the Rams at wide receiver is whether or not the younger players on the team can become legitimate NFL receivers. If not stars, then at least the sum of their parts, a unit capable of giving QB Sam Bradford and the offense enough variety to challenge a defense and score points. The old guys on the market would be nothing more than a part of this sum, as opposed to the players they used to be who could challenge a defense all by themselves. Let me illustrate my point with the oldster receiver du jour: Plaxico Burress.
Burress could be one of two players. In the most optimistic view, he's a guy who will stretch the field. In his prime, Plaxico was fast enough to break into his long stride, get behind a defense and beat defensive backs with his vertical ability and strength. That's what the Rams would like Danario Alexander to be. DX has that skill set. The two biggest questions around DX are 1) his health and 2) his development. Most young receivers don't put it together in their first year, even their first two years; it's a complex position to learn at the NFL level.
It's unlikely that Plaxico can operate at that level. Given the choice, I'd take DX for that role since he has yet to reach his ceiling, where as Plaxico is, at best, going to reach the bottom of that framed, faux-impressionist print hanging your mom got on sale at the home deco store in the mall.
The second, more realistic scenario for Burress is as a role player, an end zone, third down receiver who can move the chains or put points on the board as a reliable, big target for Bradford. I have little doubt that Plaxico can be useful in that role. The Rams already have a few players to use in those situations. Third-round pick Austin Pettis is the most obvious, as we said on Monday. Here again, you have the matter of a young player's ceiling. Oh, and in case you forgot, the Rams made a pretty significant commitment to Josh McDaniels' two-TE offense, using a second-round pick on Lance Kendricks. That chapter in the playbook proved to be a pretty successful red zone/end zone threat for the Patriots last year.
So jump into the veteran wide receiver debate, but understand it's a matter of questions and which possible answers the Rams feel more comfortable with.