As we discuss free agent options for the New York Jets, fans continually mention Braylon Edwards and how the team needs to bring him back.
"He's still got it!"
"He can be a mentor for the rookies!"
The two statements above that I listed are common refrains of those who defend Edwards and want him back. And yet, they're both misguided. Here's the argument against bringing Edwards back, because I want to bury this argument once and for all:
The first, and most important, point is that Edwards is terrible at playing football. He is a shell of what he used to be before his knee injury, his "glory days," which truthfully lasted about a season and a half from mid-2009 to late-2010. Since 2010, and via three teams, he has a grand total of 33 receptions on 70 targets for 380 yards and 1 touchdown. But if stats don't convince you, then just watch the tape. He's slow, and doesn't have the speed that used to burn defenses. He struggles to gain separation and his one defining trait is now gone.
But more than just Edwards as a player, let's look at the team as a whole. If the team were to sign Edwards, they would be giving him reps in training camp that could go to a young player such as Jeremy Kerley, Stephen Hill, Emmanuel Arceneaux, Joseph Collins, Clyde Gates, Vidal Hazelton, Thomas Mayo, Titus Ryan, or Jordan White. Every single one of these players has more upside in their career than Edwards. All of them could possibly be the next Victor Cruz. And Edwards? He's on the downhill, and will never be even close to as productive as he once was. His time is gone. It's time for the next player to step up.
Then there's always the argument that he's a good teammate and could serve as a valuable mentor to the aforementioned young players. Are we to ignore the fact that Edwards displayed spectacularly poor judgment by putting himself in a position to be connected with a bar fight during free agency, arguably the single most important week of his life? Are we to ignore that he endangered his teammates lives by getting arrested for DUI with two teammates in the car? To put Edwards on some pedestal is to blatantly ignore the facts, and the facts are that he is historically not a good influence on his teammates or decision-maker. Let's not now pretend he's some saint.
Time To Move On
Ultimately, it's time to move on. It's time to admit that this is a rebuilding year. Under GM John Idzik, this is no longer the same team it was two years ago, and it is fruitless to give reps to a man who certainly won't be with the team next year. It's better to cultivate the future by allowing the younger, more capable players to play. What is the point of bringing back Edwards if this team isn't competing this year? Will Edwards, at thirty-years-old, suddenly Benjamin Button himself and get younger and healthier by about three years? If not, then, long-term, there's zero point to bringing him back, along with the short-term pointlessness of an aging veteran in a rebuilding year.
Too many people are still stuck in the glory days of 2009/2010. That team is dead. It's time to move on with our lives, and that begins by stopping this charade that Edwards will somehow help the team going into the future.