Burress Joins Jets; Cromartie Is Next, ESPN Says, as Eagles Collect Talent

Plaxico Burress said he’s anxious for a fresh start with the New York Jets after the former Giants receiver spent 20 months in prison on a weapons charge.

Burress signed a contract yesterday with the Jets, less than two months after he was released from prison and a week after he was reinstated by the National Football League. His one-year contract is worth $3.02 million, ESPN reported.

Burress, who caught the winning touchdown pass in the 2008 Super Bowl, said he decided to join the Jets after being pursued by the Giants, Pittsburgh Steelers, Philadelphia Eagles, San Francisco 49ers and St. Louis Rams.

“It came down to going somewhere I wanted to be, where I could have an impact, help the team get to the next level and win a championship,” Burress told reporters yesterday on a media conference call. “That was here.”

Burress and fellow wideout Santonio Holmes give Jets third- year quarterback Mark Sanchez two experienced receivers who have performed in pressure situations. Holmes, who signed a new contract with the Jets last week, caught the winning touchdown pass for Pittsburgh in the 2009 Super Bowl.

“I’ve never played with a guy on the other side of me who was that explosive,” the 6-foot-5 Burress said. “It’s going to be fun. We’re going to drive some defensive coordinators crazy. It’s going to be interesting to see how teams match up against us.”

The deal with Burress came two days after the Jets lost to the Philadelphia Eagles in the bidding for free-agent cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, a four-time All Pro. Early this morning, the team agreed to re-sign free-agent cornerback Antonio Cromartie to a four-year, $32 million contract, ESPN reported, citing a person in the NFL. Cromartie joined the team last year in a trade with the San Diego Chargers.

Asomugha’s Contract

Asomugha will get $60 million over five years, according to ESPN, and the cornerback said he turned down more money from other teams because the Eagles give him the best chance to win a Super Bowl. The Eagles have had one losing season since 2000 and Asomugha has never been on a winning NFL team.

“I’ve seen what the Eagles have done in the past, the winning tradition they have,” Asomugha said at a news conference. “It excites me. They’re winners.”

The addition of Asomugha was the last in a flurry of moves by the Eagles over the past several days.

They also got cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in the trade that sent quarterback Kevin Kolb to Arizona, and signed Pro Bowl defensive end Jason Babin, quarterback Vince Young and defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins, who had seven sacks for the Super Bowl-champion Green Bay Packers last season.

“You look at the talent they’ve collected over the last few days and it’s unbelievable,” said ESPN analyst Mark Schlereth, who played 10 seasons as an NFL offensive lineman. “They’re built to stop some of the great juggernauts in the NFC when you talk about Green Bay and New Orleans.”

Jets’ Options

Burress, in teaming with Holmes, offers another attacking option for a Jets team that got within one win of the past two Super Bowls by relying on its running game.

The Jets ran for a league-high 2,756 yards in the 2009 season and tied for third in rushing touchdowns. Last season, they were fourth in total rushing yards and tied for ninth in running touchdowns.

By contrast, New York ranked 31st of 32 teams in net passing yards in 2009 and 22nd last season. The team was 23rd in touchdown passes last year after tying for the third-fewest in the league in 2009.

“We’re going to complement each other very well,” Burress said of Holmes. “Our running game is really going to blossom because of that. I really think Mark Sanchez has the chance to grow and be an elite quarterback. It’s a great situation all the way around.”

Super Bowl Catches

Burress made his winning catch with 35 seconds left to play in the 2008 NFL championship game to give the Giants the win over the New England Patriots. Holmes made his, also with 35 seconds left, to beat the Arizona Cardinals.

Burress, who played for the Steelers from 2000-04, was sentenced to two years in jail after he pleaded guilty to a New York state charge of attempted possession of a weapon. The plea stemmed from an incident on Nov. 28, 2008, when he carried a Glock semiautomatic pistol in the waistband of his pants into a Manhattan nightclub and accidentally shot himself.

Burress was released four months early from the medium- security Oneida Correctional Facility in Rome, New York, for good behavior. He has 505 receptions for 7,845 yards, averaging 15.5 yards a catch, in his NFL career.

“It has been some long days and some long nights,” Burress said. “You dream about being able to get back to the ones you love and that time is coming. It’s time for me to focus on playing football and playing at a high level.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Erik Matuszewski in New York at matuszewski@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net

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