It's starting to sound like number 17 will be a key part of the Giants passing game in 2009. The only difference is that it will be Braylon Edwards inside the jersey instead of Plaxico Burress.
Edwards is expected to be traded from the Cleveland Browns to the Giants, according to Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports. The two teams haven't agreed on the trade as of yet, but Cole's source says that both sides are looking to make the deal happen in advance of the draft, which kicks off in 10 days.
"The Giants are motivated, they’re trying to win right now,” the source said. “Edwards is a bigger guy that [quarterback] Eli [Manning] wants to throw to, like he had with Plaxico. The Giants know they can’t leave Eli with no great receivers. They saw what happened last year."
Earlier talks between the teams fell apart when the Browns asked for Steve Smith in addition to the Giants' second and fifth-round picks. Reports out of Cleveland indicate that the Browns want a first rounder for Edwards, which wouldn't be too steep a price for the Giants to pay if Smith is left out of the deal.
If Edwards were on the board when the Giants drafted 29th, they'd almost certainly select him. There won't be anyone available with that pick who is better, right now, than Edwards, so losing the pick isn't that big of a deal. With Smith still on the roster, they'll have two strong receivers for Manning to use and Edwards would demand the kinds of double-teams that Burress did. That opens up the whole field for the Giants offense, something that didn't happen in their dismal playoff defeat against the Eagles.
Edwards has his detractors, most of whom note how many drops he had in 2008. The general crappiness of the Browns offense, especially when it comes to the quarterbacking, also played a role in limiting Edwards' effectiveness last season, though. He still had dropsies in 2007 when he had 80 catches and 16 touchdowns. A drop here and there is a fair trade for that kind of production.
With Arizona looking less and less likely to deal Anquan Boldin and Chad Ochocinco offering serious behavioral concerns, however, Edwards is definitely the best receiver on the market for the Giants' needs.
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.