After failing to land Chad Ochocinco and Plaxico Burress, the San Francisco 49ers picked up the top remaining free agent, signing wide receiver Braylon Edwards to a one-year contract that reportedly could be worth as much as $3.5 million with incentives.
In Edwards, who is 6-foot-3, 214 pounds, the Niners get a big-body receiver who will start with Michael Crabtree. Although the prospect of two top-10 draft picks starting in Jim Harbaugh’s offense is intriguing, they won't be together immediately. Crabtree is expected to miss training camp with a foot injury.
“Make no bones about it,” Edwards said, “I’m here to be the guy. I’m here to make plays. I’m here to complement whoever’s on the other side. I didn’t come to accept a quiet role. I’m here to make some noise.”
The problem with Edwards, who caught 53 passes for 904 yards and touchdown with the New York Jets last year, is consistency. On the field, he led the NFL with 16 drops in 2008. Off the field, there have been issues that could lead to discipline by Commissioner Roger Goodell. Edwards pleaded guilty to a 2010 DUI in July and no contest to misdemeanor aggravated disorderly conduct stemming from a 2009 incident outside a Cleveland nightspot.
Earlier this week, Edwards was implicated in a bar fight that remains under investigation in Birmingham, Mich. Two of his cousins were charged with felonious assault for allegedly attacking two bouncers with a pocket knife and fork. A public relations firm issued a statement on Edwards’ behalf: “What occurred last weekend at South Bar was very unfortunate. However, Birmingham Police have indicated that Braylon was not involved.”
Harbaugh was unconcerned about that. He, Edwards and Edwards’ father all played at the University of Michigan and Harbaugh brought that up in discussing what Edwards needs to do now.
“I think Braylon knows ... that he needs to get back to that kind of training,” Harbaugh said. “That kind of atmosphere. That kind of accountability. He’s hit some potholes here and you don’t want that to spiral any further down. So it’s time to start doing all the little things right.”