Posted by Ryan Wilson
UPDATE (Friday, 8/5/11), via NFL Network's Jason La Canfora: "How far did Braylon Edwards fall? Deal with 49ers is 1yr, $1M, with no guarantees. Only reaches $3.5M max with 90 catches/Pro Bowl. Yikes."
Even before the lockout ended, Braylon Edwards said he'd be willing to take a hometown discount to return to the Jets. Instead, New York gave Santonio Holmes a shiny new five-year deal, signed just-released-from-prison Plaxico Burress and were on the verge of adding 37-year-old Derrick Mason.
Meanwhile, Edwards remained unsigned … until Thursday night. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that Edwards signed a one-year, $3.5 million deal with the 49ers, and Braylon confirmed as much via Twitter: "It's official #Team17 we have moved to the bay. I'm a proud member of the San Francisco 49ers."
The 49ers have been busy in recent days acquiring mid-level talent at bargain-basement prices. In addition to Edwards, the Browns' former 2005 first-round pick, San Francisco has added Madieu Williams, Donte Whitner and Carlos Rogers (and are eager to dump 2010 second-rounder Taylor Mays).
This isn't necessarily a case of the 49ers trying to fill out the roster on the cheap (although fans may feel differently); if the Patriots had made these moves the "Yep, he's still a genius!" proclamations about Bill Belichick would soon follow. Of course, when you win at least 10 games every season since 2003 people tend to give you the benefit of the doubt. By comparison, the 49ers last had a winning record in 2002.
(For what it's worth, Whitner sent a tweet to Edwards after learning they'd be teammates in San Francisco saying, "Bray I signed there today also...let's get a RING!")
Edwards will likely join Michael Crabtree in the starting lineup once Crabtree returns from a foot injury that could keep him sidelined throughout training camp. Prior to Edwards' signing, wideouts Josh Morgan and Ted Ginn had been running with the first team offense.
"He's really excited about the offense with Jim Harbaugh," Edwards' agent Ben Dogra said, according to the Associated Press. "He has a legitimate chance to play early and often. He's looking for a fresh start and felt good about his conversations with Coach Harbaugh and (general manager) Trent Baalke. That's what made the biggest difference for him. If he does well, hopefully there's an opportunity to prolong his career there."
The AP notes that with the addition of Edwards, the Niners now have the No. 1 (Alex Smith), No. 3 (Edwards) and No. 9 (Rogers) overall picks from the '05 draft.
As for what impact Edwards might make, we'll leave you with this: during Thursday's Eye on Football Podcast (it'll be uploaded shortly -- check back soon), we asked which wide receiver among Randy Moss, Burress or Edwards we would want on our team. Let's just say Edwards twice ranked third behind a 34-year-old fresh out of prison and another 34-year-old who just retired.
Also worth mentioning: the Jets gave Burress a one-year, $3 million deal, which isn't much different from what Edwards got from the 49ers.
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