In August of 2008, many fans expected a certain wide receiver to take the league by storm, put a Super Bowl-deprived franchise on his back and put them within striking distance of a championship.
No, it was not Larry Fitzgerald.
It was Braylon Edwards.
Edwards compiled a prolific 2007 campaign for a Browns team that came within one game of making the playoffs.
Heading into his fourth season, the former Michigan star was supposed to, one up, his 1,300-yard, 16-touchdown season and is a gigantic piece to the Cleveland Brown puzzle, but the Browns fizzled out of the gate and so did Edwards.
He had notable drops right from the beginning of the season in a nationally televised embarrassment against the Dallas Cowboys.
In his first ten games, he accumulated ten drops, a staggering amount for even a marginal receiver. Those drops contributed to the demise of Derek Anderson, who clearly looked rattled, with his top target under performing.
Then came first year starter, Brady Quinn, who the Browns were keen on being patient with and weaning him into the pros with a steady diet of intermediate passes.
That didn’t bode well for the playmaking deep threat that made his mark on the league by toasting corners and hauling in long touchdown passes.
Then Quinn got hurt and any chance for Edwards to resurrect a disappointing season was erased.
He finished with a mere 55 catches for 870-yards and three touchdowns.
It appeared that this would go down as simply a disappointing season for Edwards and that 2009 would be his chance to place himself among the league’s elite again, but in mid-December, Edwards dropped another bomb, except this time it came off the field.
“It is what it is...I’ve learned since being here that I’m very unappreciated. Not by the organization, just in the eyes of the fans and the city. Since Day One, I’ve been a marked man coming from Michigan. It’s just gone that way.”
Is he just being over-sensitive?
Probably, but this sensitivity could easily morph into feelings of bitterness and contempt not only for the city’s fans—for the Browns organization, too.
When Edwards hinted at his possible displeasure, Eric Mangini was filing papers and scouting reports in his Jets office, with much more attention directed to his worn out quarterback and his team floundering, but as the head coach of the Browns, this is now a concern of Mangini.
Fixated on establishing his presence to the Browns, Mangini tore down an enormous painting that depicted legends such as Jim Brown, Otto Graham, Paul Brown, Dante Lavelli, Marion Motley, Lou Groza, and Leroy Kelly.
If Mangini was willing to rid the Browns facilities of the defining players in franchise history, odds are he would have little hesitance to ship his potentially disgruntled wide out elsewhere.
This is where the Giants come in.
The story is well known.
Plaxico Burress shot himself in the leg with an unlicensed weapon on Nov. 28, was suspended on Dec. 3, and the Giants finished the regular season 1-3, then losing in the divisional round to the Eagles, 23-11.
Their offense was inept, and even when they could move the ball they typically faltered in the red zone without No. 17.
Is it feasible that the Giants could bring Burress back?
Sure, but that is not what the Giants need.
They would have to wait until the end of March just to have the opportunity to even consider him returning and if he escapes with no charges, then the Giants would be faced with having to sell Burress to 52 other players in the locker room—many of whom he let down with his selfishness last year.
Why not bring a fresh face?
They have three picks in the first day and one of them coupled with a second day pick would obliterate any chance of a media circus in training camp with the return of Burress, and they would get a player of similar quality.
Sure, Edwards’s problems with drops are discouraging, but production isn’t the sole reason the Giants would acquire Edwards. In fact, Burress had less than 500 yards and 34 catches in nine games...yet; he was the most important part of their offense.
What the Giants need is the threat of a big play.
While his inconsistencies leave something to be desired, the Giants will not find a better way to fill that void than Braylon Edwards.