- The Washington Times - Friday, October 9, 2009

As if there were any doubt who runs the Cleveland sports scene, Browns receiver Braylon Edwards found out this week.

Monday: Edwards reportedly punches a friend of LeBron James’ following an argument.

Wednesday: Edwards is traded to the New York Jets for two players and two draft picks.

The Browns gave up on their 2005 first-round choice after yet another off-the-field incident. But regardless of whom he socked, Edwards’ time was going to end soon.

Since being hired, coach Eric Mangini has jettisoned tight end Kellen Winslow and Edwards and brought in nearly a dozen of his former Jets players.

“This is a business, and the business is winning,” left tackle Joe Thomas said. “And the man in charge is going to decide if you’re helping us win. If you’re not, you’re going to be gone.”

Mostly because of the salary cap, big midseason trades are a rarity. From 2000 to 2008, there were only 26 trades after the regular season began, and they didn’t exactly feature starters. The biggest trades were Detroit shipping receiver Roy Williams to Dallas last year and Seattle acquiring Deion Branch from New England in 2006.

Trading Edwards didn’t enter Cleveland’s thinking in 2007, when he caught 80 passes, including 16 touchdowns. But his production slipped to 55 catches and three touchdowns last year.

Edwards never made the playoffs with Cleveland.

“It can definitely take the joy out of the game,” he said. “It weighs on you.”

He should be a perfect fit for the Jets, who lost Laveranues Coles to Cincinnati in free agency. Even though New York is 3-1 with rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez, the Jets are 27th in passing yards and tied for 30th in attempts a game.

Edwards should change that, giving the Jets another target to go with receiver Jerricho Cotchery and tight end Dustin Keller.

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

Said Cotchery: “I know he’s going to add something great to this offense. We’ve got to smile about that because he’s a great player, and he’s going to demand a lot of attention.”

Edwards practiced for the first time Thursday and is expected to start Monday night at Miami.

The Browns franchise is a nightmare, and their misses in the first round since coming back to the NFL in 1999 are a huge reason.

Of their past 10 first-round picks, only three - Thomas, Brady Quinn and Kamerion Wimbley - are still on the roster. By comparison, AFC North rival Pittsburgh has its past nine first-round picks.

Only 12 picks from the 2005-08 drafts remain with the Browns, and Mangini has tried to overhaul the roster with 19 new players (even before the trade). The rebuilding process could be painful for the 0-4 Browns, but they’ve moved on from the headaches created by Edwards.

“We don’t have the superstar that everybody’s looking for, but we have guys that are quality,” receiver Mike Furrey said. “New England did it for a long time - guys who go out there and do what they’re supposed to do, keep their mouths shut, catch footballs, make plays and win games.”

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