EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Plaxico Burress could be welcomed back by the New York Giants -- if the Super Bowl star can straighten out his legal problems stemming from a weapons charge and get his life back in order.
"Right now he is still a Giant and if things work out and he's on board with what we want coming back, we'd love to have him back," general manager Jerry Reese said Tuesday.
Burress' future is cloudy because he faces an illegal weapons possession charge relating to a gunshot wound he accidentally inflicted on himself at a New York City nightclub in late November. He faces a mandatory 3½ years in prison if convicted.
Barring a plea deal, the case is scheduled to return to court at the end of the month.
The 31-year-old, who signed a five-year, $35 million contract in September, also faces a possible suspension by the NFL for violating its personal conduct policy.
Burress, who has been living in New Jersey and Florida in recent months, according to teammate Brandon Jacobs, has not commented publicly on his future with the Giants since the shooting.
His agent, Drew Rosenhaus, has refused to respond to at least two dozen telephone calls by The Associated Press seeking comment during that period.
Since the Giants' season ended, Reese has left the door open for a potential return by Burress, the only deep threat among their receivers. The team was 11-1 with him in the lineup. It lost four of its final five games after his season-ending suspension, including a 23-11 loss at home to the Philadelphia Eagles in the second round of the playoffs.
Without the threat of Burress beating them, opponents crowded the line of scrimmage and slowed down New York's running game and severely limited its offensive production.
Reese could have made a strong statement that the Giants planned to end their four-year association with Burress by signing a deep-threat receiver when free agency opened last week.
Reese also noted that the Giants made a serious offer -- a little less than $80 million -- to former Titans defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth. He added that they did not make an offer to former Bengals receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh.
Haynesworth signed with the Redskins for $100 million; the Seattle Seahawks and Houshmandzadeh agreed on a $40 million deal.
Reese said the Giants still have work to do to get ready for next season.
"We'll still look around in free agency and see if something makes sense for us in free agency," he said. "But the draft is coming up soon and we'll try to supplement with the draft as well, try to fill some holes and just try to draft good players with the draft and try to develop some young people to come into our program and stay strong all around."
New York will probably have at least nine draft picks -- two each in the second and fifth rounds -- in April, giving Reese the chance to package some in a deal to get a higher pick. The Giants currently have the 29th pick.
The Giants are scheduled to begin their offseason training program later this month, but Reese seemed to rule out Burress taking part.
"I'm not sure what will happen," Reese said. "Like I said, there are some legal issues right now, and I think that is the most pressing issue for him. I think he wants to try to get all those things resolved. We'll see what happens as far as offseason stuff goes."
"Who knows who is going to step out of the shadows and be the guy," Reese said. "Again, we'll try to continue to upgrade that spot, but we have good players at that position right now. We can go into the fall with these guys, but we are definitely going to try to continue to upgrade that position."
The Giants and Burress have other issues to settle, resulting from the four-game suspension the team handed him after he shot himself in the right thigh.
The team withheld a $1 million portion of a signing bonus after suspending Burress. He also is looking to recover fines and lost wages resulting from his suspension.
The NFL Players Association has filed two grievances against the Giants on behalf of Burress.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press
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