Jets WR Braylon Edwards
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Recent posts by Eric Edholm
I remember very well meeting with Braylon Edwards and his people — among them, his father and a marketing guy — after his Pro Day at Michigan before the 2005 NFL draft.
Edwards had run the 40 time he needed to secure a top-five selection and already was dreaming of the endorsements that could follow.
"I'd like to be the spokesman for Snickers, or something like that," Edwards said, perhaps not aware that Snickers was a candy bar and not a company, as in Mars Inc., its producer.
He had starry eyes, and clearly, he still does.
It was never explicitly said that day, but there was an uneasiness about the way the top five laid out that year. San Francisco was lukewarm to the idea of drafting a receiver No. 1, and Miami at No. 2 was a city where a young man could be a star, but quarterback and running back were far bigger concerns. It appeared the Dolphins were out, too.
That left the Browns at No. 3 and the Bears at four. Clearly, the Edwards camp was praying that the Bears somehow could get a chance at him. They were stung by the failure of another Michigan receiver, David Terrell, but were intrigued by Edwards' talent. Make it in Chicago, a toddlin' town, and you can own the city. It had been praying for the next Urlacher, the next Sosa, really the next Jordan. (Interestingly, that didn't really happen until this year when Derrick Rose and Jay Cutler came to town.)
But everyone just seemed to know that Cleveland was the place he'd end up. And in the irony of all ironies, Edwards and Co. probably had to know that Cleveland was a one-man town, and that man was LeBron James, who had arrived a year and a half earlier.
Edwards was not destined to fail with the Browns, but it appeared that way. I just think that Edwards got caught up in some big-city fantasy of NFL stardom — and New York became the destination of his dreams along the way. Even during Edwards' terrific 2007 season (80 catches, 16 TDs), he never appeared to want to be a Brown. He had bigger sights in mind.
Did he play his way out of Cleveland? Eh, I don't think so exactly. But did he make it clear he would be perfectly content to go elsewhere, preferably somewhere big and shiny.
This morning, he got his wish. He's now a Jet, in a city not with one star but with dozens. Now, he's just another guy, and he might not get the singular attention he did in Cleveland if he fails, but Jets fans can be an unruly bunch if they don't get what they want from a player.
The good news for them is that they didn't give up a lot for him — a few draft picks, a one-dimensional receiver and a good special-teams player.
An aside: This trade is quite interesting and tells me that Eric Mangini hasn't lost any stock with Randy Lerner. This is the second trade the jets and Browns have consummated in the past six months, and given the specific players that have been dealt, it's clear that Mangini — despite calls for his head already — was asking for guys whom he liked.
So who will win in this deal? Clearly, Edwards. He got what he wanted: a trip to New York and out of Cleveland. He has a lot to prove, however, having caught only 65 passes for 1,012 yards and three TDs in the 20 games since his '07 season. Scouts say he hasn't played anywhere near an elite level since that time, and there are some who feel that season was more aberration than reality. They point to dropped passes, lapses in concentration, inconsistency and apparent attitude problems as his Achilles' heels. And other than that one season, he had performed like a No. 2 receiver at best, the Browns' QB troubles aside.
The alleged fight with James' associate was the final straw. The Browns had enough, and it appeared Edwards felt that way long ago. Now he teams with an exciting coach in Rex Ryan who game-planned against Edwards for four years and eight games and apparently likes his talent. Edwards has an exciting young QB in Mark Sanchez and some other nice parts around him (Dustin Keller, Jerricho Cotchery, Leon Washington and others) who should make the transition easier.
All he needs to do is invoke that '07 magic, and Edwards might get his Snickers deal.
Oh, and for those keeping score at home — or for Browns fans who want to give Edwards a piece of their mind up close and personally — the Jets visit Cleveland in 2010.