Rich's Rant: The Wrong Move

Back from vacation - he's tanned, he's rested, he's ready, he's real. And he's more than a little worried over rumors that have seeped into the mainstream press.

Rumors persist that Browns wide receiver Braylon Edwards will wind up in New York this season with the Jets.

Reportedly, Edwards would be shipped to the Jets for veteran running back Thomas Jones, who would succeed Jamal Lewis.

Edwards is 26. Jones, whose career didn't take off until his fifth season, will be 31 in August. He's a year older than Lewis. He has carried the ball more than 1,200 times in the last four seasons.

If the Browns make such a deal, they might as well throw up a white flag on the season. Flush it down the toilet.

Of course, the 2009 Browns aren't going to win the AFC North Division. And they're not good enough to advance to the postseason. Considering they're coming off a 4-12 season, any record with five victories or more would be considered an improvement.

But trading Edwards, whose potential was realized in the 2007 season but disappeared last season, would be downright ignorant. If Eric Mangini and George Kokinis are dumb enough to make that deal, the wide receivers corps would be bereft of a major threat.

Whoever quarterbacks the team would be strapped with so much inexperience and lack of talent at wide receiver, the offensive line would need to work overtime to protect him from getting maimed.

It's not as though Brian Robiskie or Mohammed Massaquoi or David Patten or any other receiver for that matter can step in and be the No. 1 guy. Edwards can. He has proved that in the past. He gives the Browns a dimension they would otherwise be missing if he leaves.

Yes, his production fell off dramatically last season. That, in part, was due to a number of factors, not the least of which was problems at quarterback. It does not necessarily mean that will be repeated this season.

When Romeo Crennel changed horses at the position midway through the season, the entire offensive dynamic changed. No longer were the Browns a pass-first, run-second offense as they were under Derek Anderson.

Offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski knew he couldn't trust Brady Quinn with the passing game as he did Anderson. The kid was a virtual raw rookie and the reins were yanked back.

That adversely affected Edwards, who struggled with numerous dropped passes when Anderson was chucking. But despite his inconsistencies, Edwards was still the best the Browns had to offer at wide receiver.

He still is.

Was the sensational 2007 season an aberration? A one-time occurrence that most likely will never happen again?

Maybe, but that does not alter the fact Edwards still has the talent to produce if given the right atmosphere. All he needs is the right kind of coaching.

If what we are led to believe with Mangini is true, Edwards will receive that kind of coaching. And he will benefit from it.

Mangini is a stickler for the fundamentals and will not tolerate anything less from his players. One of Edwards' biggest problems was the undisciplined manner in which he played the game.

He'll break your heart on one play and make your heart jump for joy on the next. That's the kind of player he is.

Rounding off pass routes lazily by Edwards proved responsible for a number of Anderson interceptions in 2007. But his 80 pass receptions for nearly 1,300 yards and 16 touchdowns more than made up for his indiscretions.

And it's that type of production that should tell Mangini and Kokinis that he is fully capable of doing it again. And again. And again.

It would be foolish to ship that kind of talent elsewhere while Browns fans are left pondering why such a move was made.

Time to haul out the old sports bromide here: Sometimes, the best moves you make are the ones you don't make.

Consider this one of those moves.

The Browns sign such stalwarts (sarcasm undeniably intended) as Mike Furrey and Patten. They sneaked a peak at Drew Bennett, but wisely decided he doesn't fit. Probably wanted too much money.

Cleveland, it seems, has become the home of the journeyman wide receiver. Furrey and Patten fit the profile of the type of free-agent wide receiver the Browns have sought and signed this season: At least 31 years old with lots of travel experience.

So why stop there? Enlarge the competitive field for training camp this summer. Bring back Quincy Morgan and Kevin Johnson. They fit the profile. Frisman Jackson is available, not to mention Travis Wilson, Kevin Kasper and Andre King. Oops, Wilson is still too young. Scratch him.

Throwing a bunch of names onto the roster won't change the fact the absence of a No. 1 receiver is a weakness if Edwards is dealt.

Mangini and Kokinis should do themselves a favor and shut off all Braylon Edwards trade talk. Stop any conversation with colleagues in its tracks if Edwards' name is mentioned.

Getting rid of him now would be the wrong move for all the wrong reasons.

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