Friday, April 24, 2009

Giants: Braylon Edwards trade

On again - off again. Reports are that the proposed Braylon Edwards trade, assumed to be inevitable earlier, is now completely off. The word is that the Browns wanted a 1st and 3rd from the Giants, or a first and a player, specifically Kiwanuka and that this price was way above what the Giants were willing to pay. So, the current thinking is that the deal is dead unless one of the two parties blinks and undigs their heels from their entrenched positions. Either the Browns have to compromise their demands for Edwards or the Giants have to sweeten the offer in order for the deal to have any chance of being consummated. Because football players are filled with testosterone and presumed to all be alpha males, "compromise" or "undigging their heels" are not considered to be part of their behavior patterns or even part of their vocabulary. The deal is dead.

Except.... I don't think so. Just like I didn't think the deal was a 100% slam dunk earlier when everyone was sure that it was inevitable, I also don't think it is 100% dead now when all the analysts and experts say it is dead. I am not going to handicap it and predict what the probability is that it will happen; I'm just saying - don't believe anything you read at this time of year. Compromise may not be part of the football player's modus operandi, but it is definitely part of the GM's bag of tricks. In fact, compromise is all that they do. Because of the salary cap, every signing that the GM makes, whether for a low priced undrafted free agent or for a 1st round stud qb represents a compromise between what is paid to this player and what can be paid therefore to other players who could potentially join the team. They evaluate what a player is worth and make judgements. They compromise between needs, desires and salary. If you pay 100K more to one player, you might not be able to get that other player that wants an additional 100K.

From both teams' perspectives, there should be room for compromise. From the Browns' point of view, now that they have advertised that Braylon Edwards is on the trade market, that Mangini wants to remake the team with his own type of players, what kind of motivation or performance are they going to extract from Edwards. The rumor on Edwards is that he is a me-first player, more interested in his own numbers than team success. Well, if you thought he was that kind of player before, what kind of player do you think he's going to be in his contract walk year? Is he going to dive over the middle and risk injury to make a tough catch in a crucial situation to help the team? Or is he going to show the alligator arms, avoid the contact and let the pass fall to the ground, avoiding a hit by a safety. Don't answer that, it's a rhetorical question. If he gives up his body, the team may get the crucial first down, but he may get dinged and miss a few plays or even a game or two. Worse still, he could get seriously hurt and completely mess up his chances for a big FA contract. If he protects his body, he stays on the field an extra series or an extra game and gets to pad his statistics with extra catches and yards. Those stats are what will get him the big FA contract in the off season from the Daniel Snyder type owners of the world interested only in yards and receptions. The tough catch on 3rd and 7 won't make an impression. Instead of keeping an unmotivated Edwards, the Browns could lower their demands and get some players that actually want to play in Cleveland and will be motivated into a team first attitude. If they keep Edwards, they will have an uncommitted player guaranteed to leave as FA after the season. They get to rent that player for one year.

Conversely, from the Giants' perspective, it is clear that they want a play maker at the WR position. The offense needs some more weapons to balance out the running game. Are they going to get a stud WR at the 29th slot in the draft? Probably not. If they want to improve their draft position and get a better player than one that would be available in their 29th slot, they would have to give their own 1st round draft choice and another, say their 2nd or 3rd round to move up to around 15 in order to have the pick of the litter of WRs available at that slot. So if the Giants have to give up their own 1 and 3 for a draftee that has at best a 50% success rate for his entire career and a much lower chance for being an impact player in his first year, why would they not package that 1 and 3 and get a proven commodity in Edwards. To be sure, that would be contingent on Edwards signing an extension with the Giants, because otherwise, they would be giving up a 1 and 3 for a player that they have control of for only one year, which does not make sense. There are salary cap implications towards having a veteran versus a rookie on the team and that may weigh into their decision, but from a pure talent perspective, logic and history dictate that they will not get a WR that will have the kind of impact that Edwards will likely have, especially for the 2009 season. Giants are built to win in the next few years and you want to strike while the window is ajar. (Sorry for mixing metaphors - usually you strike when the iron is hot, but I think you know what I mean). The window of opportunity to compete for championships closes quickly in the NFL. There is certainly strong motivation for the Giants to compromise on what they will give up in order to obtain Edwards.

It may still have a low chance for happening, but when the trade seems to make sense for both teams, there should be room for compromise on both sides and my strong feeling is that this deal is not dead yet.

Actually a reasonable compromise would be: Giants give up the 2 they got from new Orleans this year and if Edwards signs an extension with the Giants next year, they give up some additional compensation, like a 1 or 2 in next year's draft.

Stay tuned.

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