NFL Free Agency: 4 Reasons the New York Jets Must Sign Braylon Edwards

Will HofmannContributor IIApril 21, 2012

NFL Free Agency: 4 Reasons the New York Jets Must Sign Braylon Edwards

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    With the NFL draft less than a week away, teams are putting the finishing touches on their draft-day plans. The Jets have many holes to fill this offseason, ranging from the crumbling offensive line to the aging defense.

    The Jets took a step in bolstering the safety position when they signed LaRon Landry. Aaron Maybin signed his restricted free-agent tender and will provide some speed to New York's front seven.

    The Jets also brought in Tim Tebow. Tebow is certainly an intriguing talent, but the move was questionable to say the least.

    These transactions patch up a few of the holes, but there are still big decisions to be made. Should they add more weapons for quarterback Mark Sanchez and the offense? Do they need an upgrade on the offensive line? Who will man the linebacking corps when Calvin Pace and Bart Scott move on?

    There is one free agent whose signing could be the first step in answering these questions, and his name is Braylon Edwards.

Team Chemistry

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    Despite a few problems off the field, Edwards' time as a Jet was pretty smooth. Braylon was a favorite deep-threat target for Sanchez and had a reputation as a hard worker.

    In Cleveland, he had a reputation for dropping passes and a bad attitude. This changed when he came to New York. Edwards was a quiet leader and consistently had the fewest drops of the Jets' starting receivers.

    With Edwards in the starting lineup, Sanchez would have a receiver he could trust to make important catches and would relieve some of the Tebow-induced stress that will inevitably catch up to him this season.

    Braylon would also take some defensive attention away from fellow wide receiver Santonio Holmes.

    With offensive threats on the ground in Tebow, Greene and McKnight, and targets for Sanchez including Holmes, Edwards, Keller and Kerley, the Jets could have one of the more dangerous offenses in the NFL.


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    Last season, Plaxico Burress donned the green and white, No. 17 jersey for the Jets. It took him a few weeks to catch on, and he never was in much of a groove outside of the red zone for the Jets. 

    This can be blamed, partially, on his lack of experience with Mark Sanchez and the offensive system. With Edwards, there would be a minimal learning curve. He would come in understanding his role and many of the offensive schemes.

    Although Tony Soprano will be in command rather than Brian Schottenheimer, the Jets will look familiar to Edwards.

    There were plenty of ground-and-pound and some Wildcat setups. Sanchez and Edwards flourished with the deep play-action pass, which should be a staple of their offense this year given all the running they plan to do.

Draft Strategy

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    Signing Edwards would relieve the Jets of their No. 2 wide receiver need and allow them to focus on other pressing problems. The Jets' trademark defense is in decline and needs a facelift. 

    Defensive draft-day targets for the Jets include linebackers Courtney Upshaw and Whitney Mercilus, as well as safeties Mark Barron and Harrison Smith.

    Upshaw and Barron are both products of the defensively minded Alabama program. They are players who would respond well to the coaching methods of Mr. Rex Ryan.

    The Jets can address issues of age and skill by drafting defensive players. Signing Braylon Edwards will allow them to focus on these needs, instead of being tempted by talents such as Justin Blackmon and Michael Floyd.

Best Free Agent Fit

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    As a matter of practicality, the Jets need to add a wide receiver, and Edwards is the best available to the Jets. In his time with the Jets, he was very productive as both the first and second options for Mark Sanchez. And he got along well with Santonio Holmes and the other receivers.

    Edwards never was a fit in San Francisco. Alex Smith had his preferred targets, and Braylon never became one of them. He never reached a comfort level like he did in New York. 

    An Edwards signing this offseason could revive the New York offense and resurrect Edwards' career. Expect big things out of Gang Green's offense if Braylon is brought on board.