After the Seahawks signed veteran wide receiver Antonio Bryant – and not him – following a tryout last Thursday, Braylon Edwards figured his portal back to the NFL would be with another team.
That suddenly changed late Monday, when the Seahawks and Edwards’ agent hammered out a quick deal that put the former Pro Bowl wide-out on a late-night flight to Seattle – and the practice field at the team’s training camp on Tuesday morning.
“I got in this morning, actually. I landed at 2:15 a.m.,” said Edwards, who admitted he was just a tad jetlagged after dealing with a delayed flight.
“When they signed A.B., it kind of seemed like that was their decision and that’s what they were going to go with. Which was a very-respectful decision – me, outside looking in – because of what they told him and they lived up to what they told him.”
Bryant also had a tryout at the team’s minicamp in June. Afterward, the coaches told him to get in better shape and come back later. He did, and was signed. But now, Edwards also has been signed.
“When they doubled back and called me as well, I already was ready to take the offer,” Edwards said.
Where does Edwards fit? That remains to be seen. He joins a group of receivers popping with potential, but also one that comes up short in experience and proven production. There’s Doug Baldwin, who led the team in receiving last season as a rookie free agent. There’s on-the-mend
Edwards was wearing No. 17 in his first practice – the same number worn the past two seasons by Mike Williams, the feel-good story of 2010 when he led the team in receiving after being signed following a tryout at a spring minicamp. But coach Pete Carroll said that expecting a repeat performance from Edwards is like putting the receptions before the throws.
“I don’t have any idea what it will work out like,” Carroll said. “But he’s played a lot of football. He’s a tough competitor. He blocks and is aggressive when he gets his chances. He runs aggressively with the ball in his hands and he’s got a big catching range.
“He’s wearing No. 17 out there, so it looks a little bit the same. So we will see what happens. We’ll see where he fits. It’s just too early to tell.”
Someone tried to press the numerical analogy a little too far, suggesting that the 6-foot-3, 214-pound Edwards had same physique as Williams, who is 6-4 and whose weight often pushed beyond 250.
“I don’t weigh quite as much as Mike. Mike’s a little bigger than me,” Edwards said. “I’m a little bit shorter, but as well as some speed to go with it.”
Edwards hasn’t been out of the league the past two seasons, either, which was the case when the Seahawks signed Williams. Edwards began last season in San Francisco, but was released by the 49ers after tearing the meniscus in one of his knee – an injury that required surgery then, as well as after the season. He caught 53 and 35 passes in two seasons with the New Jets before that. But his best seasons game in Cleveland, after the Browns made Edwards the third pick overall in the 2005 NFL Draft. He went to the Pro Bowl in 2007 after catching 80 passes for 1,289 yards and 16 touchdowns. He also caught 61 passes in 2006 and 55 in 2008.
With the Seahawks, Edwards is just looking to catch on, and do it with an organization and team that fits his starting-over criteria.
“I like what they’ve got going on out here,” he said. “Just walking and talking to these guys when I came out and interviewed last year (before signing with the 49ers), it’s just a high-positive organization. Just walking around, there’s a lot of positivity and you can just see the energy that these guys have. These guys are happy to come out and play for coach Carroll, they’re happy to play for their position and it seems like they’ve got this team moving in the right direction.
“That’s something I definitely want to be a part of going into my eighth year.”
Being on the practice field with the Seahawks on Tuesday also meant a renewal of one of the more contested matchups when Edwards’ new team played his old team last season – him against 6-4 cornerback
Edwards admitted, “A lot of fights we had last year.” But he quickly added, “You know how it is when you’re on that field and you get into competition, and that’s just how it goes. We never take anything outside the field, even when we were against each other.”
He flashed a smile before offering, “Now we have a chance to be on the same team and I’m happy that we can fight on the same team.”
Edwards also flashed his competitive nature on the field, jetlag and all. On a pass from rookie quarterback Russell Wilson, Edwards went over a defender to tip the ball along the sideline and then caught it as he was falling.
That’s the Braylon Edwards is expecting to be in Seattle.
“Steadily on the rise,” he said when asked where he sees his career. “I’m still only 29, so I’m still under that 30 line. This is year eight for me and I think there’s a lot left in the tank. Hopefully this can be the fit and we can finish it off here.
“At the end of the day, it’s not how you start, it’s not about the maintain, it’s how you finish. That’s what I’m looking for at this point in my career.”
It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish? With the team for only a matter of hours, and already Edwards was using one of Carroll’s favorite lines.