Former Jets and Browns wide receiver Braylon Edwards is a free agent. Edwards is 6' 3", spry, a leaper. He has 39 touchdowns in six seasons, which ties him for 23rd among active players. And he's one of the youngest in that bunch.
But no one wants him: The Jets prioritized Santonio Holmes over Edwards, before signing Plaxico Burress—after a two-years-and-change layoff—instead of Braylon. The Seahawks threw $41 million Sidney Rice's way, despite his injury history, and the Vikings responded by signing Michael Jenkins to replace him. Kansas City gave Steve Breaston some serious coin. The Packers gave James Jones a three-year deal, too. Edwards doesn't really understand why he's getting passed over.
But we know why no one would want to build around Braylon—he's always on the fringes of trouble. He's the player about whom columnists would say, "You know, he just doesn't get it," and they'd be right.
From Fox 2 in Detroit:
Sunday, Edwards was allegedly at the South Bar in Birmingham. Reportedly two people in his entourage were arrested after roughing up some employees around two o'clock in the morning.
Around that same time, Edwards tweeted, "Damn. Get ya knuckles ready" and "Don't fight if. You don't know how."
We're told the group of friends Edwards was with got into an argument with an employee at the nighttime hot spot that eventually spilled into the kitchen. There one worker was sliced with a knife requiring 14 stitches. Another was attacked with a fork.
EDIT: We had heard a little bit about this too, before the Fox story went to press: A tipster wrote, "Have you guys got the news on him at South last night????? This story is gonna take the cake. No way he starts this season off after Goodell gets a hold of this." A Twitterer who talked about beating people up for Braylon (he's since scrubbed the tweet) told me he wouldn't "snitch" on Monday.
The police say Edwards wasn't involved in the fracas, that the officers never even interacted with him. Ordinarily we—or like-minded sports fans—would claim Edwards was getting an unfair shake from the media, or the police. But those earlier tweets! Why, Braylon, why? (He later tweeted, "Yo...Lost my phone last night someone sent tweets. Deleted them and changed my password. Sorry for the mishap hopefully never happens again!" We know how the hacker excuse usually works.) And even when he's not running afoul of the law himself, he's flanking someone who is, or he's just being stupid.
Edwards was also out drinking with Donte' Stallworth in Miami the night Stallworth drove drunk and killed a pedestrian.
More from the Plain Dealer:
But it was 2006 that was really the banner year for Edwards. That year he:
• Disobeyed head coach Romeo Crennel, renting a helicopter to attend the Ohio State-Michigan game in Columbus and arriving late for a team meeting. Crennel fined him.
• Criticized offensive coordinator Jeff Davidson's playcalling, saying he wasn't aggressive enough in the red zone.
• Called out teammate safety Brian Russell, saying Russell's hit that knocked Cincinnati's Chad Johnson out of the game "bullshit." Crennel, in turn, blasted Edwards for criticizing his own teammate. "It was a legal hit," Crennel said. "You don't air family laundry."
• Went berserk on the sidelines of the Bengals game, grabbing Charlie Frye's jersey and screaming at teammates. Later, he accused teammates of quitting and "flat-out not playing."
In August of 2008, he was pulled over after driving 120 mph in Avon at 2 a.m. with his passenger vomiting. Edwards only got a ticket after WOIO revealed the incident, and he blamed it on the station.
During the Texans game on Nov. 23, he approached safety Will Demps between plays about how to get into modeling and acting, according to Demps in ESPN The Magazine.
He ended his tenure in Cleveland by punching a member of LeBron's entourage—in October 2009, back when the people of Cleveland would always take LeBron's side—apparently out of jealousy for the King. Said LeBron, "I've never crossed paths with Braylon before, but it seems like there's a little jealousy going on with Braylon and me and my friends. I have no idea why."
And in 2010, Edwards' second year in New York, he was arrested for DWI despite Manhattan's many cabs, and a free-for-players car service the Jets had arranged. (Braylon pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge about a week ago.)
Edwards knows that athletes need to be careful in the age of the internet. Consider his Costas Now appearance, trapped in between the Editor Emeritus and Buzz Bissinger.
"Are we doing anything different than athletes did in the 60s and 70s? Not at all, we're doing the same things they did, but now you have internet, you have Deadspin, you have camera phones, it's crazy now, so we have to really watch ourselves." But he hasn't.
Lest you forget, this taxonomy of red flags doesn't include what might be his biggest: the drops. To wit, this highlight. Edwards led the league in drops in 2008. Even in his 16-touchdown 2007 season, Football Outsiders' stats said Edwards was only a fuzz above average. He's not terribly physical, and he doesn't catch over the middle.
Really, any one of very many reasons should prevent Edwards from getting significant money from any NFL team. Then again, there's always the Raiders.
This post has been revised since publication to include a section about tipsters who reached out to us, and to whom we reached out.