The Braylon Edwards Effect: Will Jets' New Receiver Be the Difference?

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The Braylon Edwards Effect: Will Jets' New Receiver Be the Difference?
(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Don't look now, but the New York Jets may have done it to Eric Mangini and the Cleveland Browns again.

By 'it', I mean a lopsided trade that benefits the Jets most, and by 'again' I mean for the second time in six months.

The draft-day trade that allowed the Jets to leap 12 spots and select Mark Sanchez was eyebrow-raising, especially given the compensation Mangini accepted for the rights to the Browns' fifth-overall pick.

Cleveland received safety Abram Elam, defensive end Kenyon Coleman, and quarterback Brett Ratliff — none of them standouts at their respective positions — as well as the Jets' 17th-overall and second-round picks, granting New York the opportunity to select the NFL's Rookie of the Month.

The Jets' search for a receiver to complement their prized rookie began after the draft, and finally culminated in a trade for Browns receiver Braylon Edwards. And all it cost Gang Green was special teams linebacker Jason Trusnik, receiver Chansi Stuckey, and what's being reported as third- and fifth-round draft picks.

Steal? Safe to say.

Considering the Browns demanded defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka and a first-round pick from the New York Giants in April, it's easy to feel like Cleveland is on a walk of shame through the NFL with ex-Jets. 

Yet, it's hard to say Cleveland was completely fleeced. Edwards had his issues with the Browns, and Eric Mangini shipped away a headache he hoped to alleviate all offseason. That does work in the Browns' favor.

But it's harder to overlook the offensive dynamic Braylon Edwards brings to the Jets, completely justifying the package they pieced together to ship to Mangini. 

A receiver capable of nearly 1,300 yards and 16 touchdowns in a season is always worth the gamble.

 

Why the Trade Had to Happen

New Orleans completely neutralized the Jets' offense in Week Four. Safety Darren Sharper and the Saints' ball-hawking defense disrupted Sanchez with pressure and tight coverage schemes, knocking him out of the comfort zone that made him a three-time Rookie of the Week.

That's when it became evident that sixth-year receiver Jerricho Cotchery was in dire need of a complement on the other side of the field.

Stuckey, a seventh-round pick in 2007, wasn't awful. He has great hands and can tally up yards after the catch. But he struggles with separation at the line of scrimmage, making him an inconsistent option in the offense.

For that reason, Edwards was critical for the Jets, despite the criticisms of his talent and issues with dropped passes. His true value to the Jets can't, and shouldn't, be quantified through individual statistics.

The physical aspect of the fifth-year receiver's game is why he was necessary.

His presence must be respected by a secondary while his speed and size commands a consistent double team. With that extra attention, Cotchery and tight end Dustin Keller should be able to find open space as coverages roll in Edwards' direction.

Sanchez also receives a 6'3" target, forcing defenders stop stacking the box and giving running backs Leon Washington and Thomas Jones the necessary space to reignite the Jets' stalled rush attack.

Most importantly, the Jets couldn't afford to exhaust their fourth-ranked defense with a one-dimensional offense every week. 

 

Flight Pattern to Destination

A trade for a 6'3", 215-pound receiver with game-breaking potential is one that every franchise with championship aspirations has to make if they want to be competitive.

After Sanchez came on board, the question revolved around who would become his premier receiver and help the Jets leave the runway. 

Leading up to the season, every high-priced and/or troubled star receiver was linked to the Jets. Despite long flirtations and rumors, none of them stuck.

A quick refresher course: 

After the smoke cleared, Edwards' fire was the only one still burning.

No need to be coy about it: The Jets are hoping a change of scenery is the catalyst Edwards needs to overcome the flaws in his game.

There are no sure things in gambling, but coach Rex Ryan's familiarity with Edwards should put fans at ease.

If Ryan believed in him after preparing for him twice a year in Baltimore, then it's safe to assume that the decision to make the trade was carefully examined.

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