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Published: Thursday, 10/8/2009

Browns ship Edwards to Jets

BY TONY GROSSI
(CLEVELAND) PLAIN DEALER

BEREA, Ohio — The Cleveland Browns' Braylon Edwards was traded to the New York Jets two days after he allegedly punched a friend of LeBron James' outside a nightclub at about 2:30 Monday morning.

In return, the Browns received two players — receiver Chansi Stuckey and linebacker and special teams player Jason Trusnik — and two undisclosed draft picks.

A source said the picks are a conditional third-round choice, which can improve to the second round if Edwards reaches an undisclosed number of catches, and a fifth-rounder.

Stuckey and Trusnik are the ninth and 10th former Jets brought in by coach Eric Mangini since he was fired by them on Dec. 29. He received three in another blockbuster trade on draft day that hand-delivered rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez to the Jets.

“I thought it was an opportunity for us to add some more depth, add some more players to the roster, not only in short term but in the long term,” Mangini said. “This is a process. We're looking to win in the short term and looking to build an organization to win over the long term. There were components of both in this trade.”

He said he had no trepidation providing his former team with another piece to their puzzle. The Jets are 3-1 in the first year without Mangini and have been desperately seeking a receiver.

“Contrary to popular belief, we do trade with teams other than the

Jets, and we do talk to teams other than the Jets,” Mangini said.

Trade talks involving Edwards began in March when he nearly was shipped to the New York Giants. At the time, former Browns tight end Kellen Winslow said Edwards was looking forward to playing in the Big Apple.

Trade talks began shortly after the Browns learned that Edwards had been drinking with teammate Donte Stallworth on the night of Stallworth's fatal DUI accident. While trade talks stalled, the Browns employed a strategy in the draft to select receivers Brian Robiskie and Mohamed Massaquoi in the second round.

Ever since, Edwards has run afoul of Mangini's rigid team rules. He was an infrequent participant in the offseason conditioning program. He injured his ankle playing in a pickup basketball game and missed practices in minicamp and training camp. He pouted about not being the focus of the offense after catching no passes in the loss to Cincinnati for the first time in his career. A few hours later, Edwards had the altercation outside the nightclub, which could lead to a league suspension.

Linebacker David Bowens, one of the ex-Jets, said he was not surprised by the trade.

“I don't understand the reason behind the trade, because there have been trade rumors about Braylon since we got here,” he said. “But accountability is part of conducting yourself as a person on and off the field. It doesn't matter who the coach is.”

Despite Edwards' travails — and his persistent drops — he was supported strongly by others who've shared the locker room for all or some of his four-plus seasons in Cleveland.

Quarterback Derek Anderson, who teamed with Edwards for Pro Bowl seasons in 2007, was distraught about losing “a guy that I trusted.”

“I think he's made a lot of plays for me,” Anderson said. “He's gotten me better. I think I've gotten him better. Regardless of whether he dropped a ball, nothing was ever personal. I have a great respect for him. He's a friend. We've been here five years together. We like one another. You just don't come to work with guys and [not have] fun.”

Quarterback Brady Quinn said he was wearing Edwards' shoes at practice as a tribute to him.

“[Braylon's] a great player, a good teammate, and a good friend. I can't do anything but wish him the best,” Quinn said.

Linebacker D'Qwell Jackson, another captain, didn't agree with Mangini's statement that the trade is good for the Browns in the short term and long term.

“That's tough to call. I wouldn't say that,” Jackson said. “Braylon's a good friend of mine. A great talent. Sometimes a move is a better move for that person.”

Edwards had a Pro Bowl year in 2007 when he set Browns season records with 1,289 yards and 16 touchdowns on 80 catches. But it was downhill from there. His 16 dropped passes led the NFL last year. Edwards dropped a Quinn pass in the end zone in the first exhibition game this year in Green Bay and also dropped the first pass Anderson threw him in Sunday's game.

Edwards was tied for third on the team with 10 catches through four games. Massaquoi had eight catches in the Cincinnati game. Stuckey has 11 this season with the Jets.

“It's tough,” Jackson said of Edwards' downfall. “Once you're that first-rounder and you establish yourself as an all-pro player, people expect certain things out of you.”

The trade of Edwards will pave the way for the Browns to develop Massaquoi and Robiskie. While Massaquoi had a breakout performance against Cincinnati, Robiskie has yet to catch a pass and was inactive for two of the four games.

“I think this is another real nice opportunity for Brian Robiskie,” Mangini said. “I'm excited to see what Brian can do.”

Edwards said he felt welcomed right away because he was a target of some good-natured jokes as soon as he walked into the locker room.

“A couple of guys cracked on the pants I had on,” said Edwards, who already knows several of the Jets players. “I believe coming here to a team that's doing well with a new head coach that has them going in the right direction is a fresh start and a clean slate.”

Edwards was on his way to the Browns' facility at 7:45 a.m. when he received a call from Mangini, who told him to come to his office, where he was told of the deal.

“I hadn't any clue I was going to be traded,” Edwards said.

Edwards, in his fifth season, is expected to practice today, and coach Rex Ryan said he will start Monday night at Miami for the Jets.

“I think he's going to fit right in with our group,” Ryan said.

New York was lacking a legitimate deep threat for Sanchez to throw to opposite Jerricho Cotchery, and the Jets believe Edwards will also help jumpstart the running game.

“I've had to defend against him twice a year in Baltimore, and that's not fun,” Ryan said. “He is a matchup nightmare.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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