Timing is Everything in Jets Deal for Edwards

Jets buy low on talented but troubled wide receiver

By Josh Alper
|  Wednesday, Oct 7, 2009  |  Updated 11:37 AM EDT
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At several points this offseason, there were rumors that had Browns wide receiver Braylon Edwards heading to New York. They finally came to fruition on Wednesday, but Edwards wound up with the Jets instead of across the Meadowlands with the Giants. It's the latest in a long string of bold moves by Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum and one that makes it clear that the team isn't going to use rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez as an excuse why they can't win now.

It's a bit less bold than it would have been in the offseason, however. The price for Edwards has cratered through the first month of the regular season, reaching its nadir this weekend when he didn't catch a pass on Sunday against the Bengals and then allegedly was involved in a fight at a nightclub with a member of LeBron James's entourage that night. Police are investigating those charges and there's a chance that he could be suspended down the road, but that doesn't seem to be of much concern to the Jets.

It's unlikely that he would be suspended this season and the Jets have no contractural obligation to Edwards after this season. The Jets didn't sign Edwards to the contract extension he wants as part of the trade, a choice which gives them what amounts to a free look at Edwards for the rest of the season before he becomes a restricted free agent. It's not totally free, of course, but the price tag -- wide receiver Chansi Stuckey, special teamer Jason Trusnik and two draft picks believed to be third and fifth rounders -- is minimal for a guy who was worth at least a first-round pick in February and March. If Edwards doesn't work out, the Jets lost replaceable parts and if he does they got him on the cheap. 

Having it work out this season is the hard part. In-season trades for wide receivers have a pretty rocky record, including last year's disastrous deal that brought Roy Williams to Dallas from Detroit. It's not easy to pick up a new offense in between games, though Edwards may have some familiarity with Brian Schottenheimer's scheme because the Browns have Eric Mangini as head coach and former Jets quarterbacks coach Brian Daboll running the offense. Even if that's the case, Edwards has catching up to do while simultaneously trying to help the team win games.

So timing is a concern on the field but it is also why the deal was even feasible in the first place. It is, as they say, everything. Things become cliches for a reason.

If he does come around quickly, it will have a dramatic effect on the Jets offense. Edwards is the big-play deep threat that the Jets don't have and his presence would make things much more difficult on defenses. Jerricho Cotchery is better suited to work underneath, and occupying safeties would open big space for Dustin Keller. Teams will also be forced to back off the run, which would give Thomas Jones and Leon Washington more room to operate.

The whole deal is most reminiscent of a trade made by a New York team in a different sport more than 10 years ago. When the Knicks dealt for Latrell Sprewell, he was a pariah whose talent was obscured by his dismal attitude and worse behavior with the Warriors. The Knicks took a risk, acquired him for little of value and reaped the benefits when Sprewell screwed his head on straight. Edwards could work out the same way and, who knows, may even help the Knicks land James if he wants to settle the score with Edwards down the road.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com.

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