The Browns are in a tough situation with Braylon Edwards, but there are four reasons why they should keep him. However, to buy into this post at all, I'm assuming that you'll agree Braylon is one of the top 32 wide receivers in the league.
If you don't agree with that, please remember that in 2007 he finished 21st in receptions, second in touchdown receptions, seventh in yards, and seventh in yards per catch.
I'm not going to deny that last year was a down year, but that may have a lot to do with a load of offensive line injuries, and four games combined played by third and fourth string QBs.
Also, even great receivers (shown in reason number 4), have bad seasons. Simply put, Braylon's numbers in 2007 weren't all his fault.
Here are the four reasons.
1) It's his contract year
If I told you that you could not only increase your salary by about 30 percent per year, but also get three years of your current salary as a signing bonus, how hard would you work throughout the year to make sure you got that raise and signing bonus?
That's the decision that Braylon faces.
Clearly, he's shown an ability to get separation from defenders to get open for passes throughout his career, and he also has the speed to run away from them. Also important is his ability and willingness to be an effective blocker in the running game.
Thus, no one can argue that the skill is there.
But don't get me wrong, I strongly believe that he has some issues catching passes in his career, but I think that can be overcome with more work in the off-season (with the contract year as an incentive), and hopefully more consistent play from the QB position.
2) The history of first-round receivers
Football Outsiders had a great article about the need to address the No. 1 WR position in the first round, or with multiple middle round pick.
Thus, if the Browns intend on replacing Braylon, and following Football Outsiders' advice, they need to weigh two factors:
A) How sure are they that Crabtree is the a No. 1 receiver, and not another Mike Williams, Charles Rodgers, or Troy Williamson?
My answer to this is that in the best case scenario, you had at least one more crucial data point about Williams, Rodgers, and Williamson, than you do on Crabtree. Crabtree's 40-yard dash time is unkown.
While I don't believe it's a perfect correlation to success in the NFL (Williamson being the best example of that), it's certainly an important factor in the decision making process.
B) How many other holes need to be addressed on the team?
My answer to that, and I believe most people reading this article will agree, there are a lot more holes that need to be addressed.
While the Browns may get extra picks for Braylon if they trade him, if they don't draft Crabtree with their No. 1 pick, based solely on percentages in the Football Outsiders research, on average, they would need to use three second-round picks to find the right WR to replace Braylon.
3) Al Davis
Let's say you disagree with me, and strongly believe that Crabtree is going to be a No. 1 receiver. That means that you would have traded Braylon to the Giants (assuming the Giants change their mind).
How certain are you that the Raiders won't jump in front of us and take Crabtree? It's not hard to imagine that the Seahawks would agree to take Oakland's No. 1 and No. 2 picks to move up two slots (and Al Davis is crazy enough to give up that much).
So now you're sitting at No. 5, and you can't justify drafting Maclin (because of Cribbs). What now?
4) A player with similar numbers in their first four years:
Braylon - 6'3", 216 pounds
Catch percentage from Football Outsiders:
Year One: 32 catches, 512 yards, 3 TDs, 28 first downs, 51 percent catch rate (10 games)
Year Two: 61 catches, 884 yards, 6 TDs, 38 first downs, 49 percent catch rate
Year Three: 80 catches, 1289 yards, 16 TDs, 57 first downs, 52 percent catch rate
Year Four: 55 catches, 873 yards, 3 TDs, 42 first downs, unknown catch rate
And Braylon is a model citizen.
Similar Player - 6'3", 225 pounds (2008 weight)
Year One: 32 catches, 520 yards, 4 TDs, 23 first downs, 61 percent catch rate* (16 games)
Year Two: 60 catches, 936 yards, 8 TDs, 48 first downs, 51 percent catch rate*
Year Three: 67 catches, 1097 yards, 14 TDs, 52 first downs, 56 percent catch rate*
Year Four: 60 catches, 754 yards, 4 TDs, 36 first downs, 57 percent catch rate*
* Catch rates taken from player' ninth through 12th seasons in the league as FO doesn't have data available.
Some other points to note:
"Similar Player" had a hall of fame QB in his first three years.
Both players had teammates catch for over 800 yards in one of the seasons, and over 1,000 in two others
Would you agree that these two players are similar?
If so, find out who the similar player is.