I’m trying my best to withhold judgment on the wide receiver acquisitions on both coasts yesterday — Braylon Edwards getting traded to the Jets and Michael Crabtree signing with the 49ers — but it’s difficult because I think both players are going to end up being contributors to playoff teams.
First, let’s discuss the rookie, who, for the longest time, confounded all of us who respect and follow the sport with his lengthy holdout. We can argue as to why he didn’t get things done earlier, but I’d rather move forward. He’s in the house now and it will be interesting to see how he fits into the locker room with a bunch of guys, who have worked hard and won without him.
Most players will welcome him, but others are going to remain suspicious until he finally proves something. Crabtree might want to remain quiet and stay healthy, otherwise, some players — especially the few who might lose some touches upon his integration into the offense — aren’t going to take too kindly to his better-late-than-never entrance.
Fortunately for Crabtree, coach Mike Singletary and his staff have created a culture in which he will be viewed as an equal and be held accountable. He also won’t be forced into situations where he won’t succeed, and there’s no reason to force him into anything, since no player was moved to make room for him, unlike Edwards in New York.
I think the 49ers will be able to find packages that play to Crabtree’s strengths. Those strengths, because of his holdout, seem to have been forgotten. Crabtree was a heck of a player at Texas Tech and if he can rekindle any of his swagger, he could be a nice injection of fresh legs at just the right time.
Last thought on Crabtree: Instead of spending any more of his energy on getting paid like Oakland’s Darrius Heyward-Bey, he should see if he can be anywhere near as effective as fellow rookie wide receivers Hakeem Nicks, Percy Harvin and Kenny Britt, who were all were picked after him and paid much less than him.
As for Edwards, who is expected to start against Miami on Monday Night, demands on him will be far more pressing. The Jets want him to make plays and they’re giving him the opportunity to do so right away. His teammates also are going to expect him to walk a straight line. Edwards is going to a team loaded with guys he’s faced and who won’t tolerate his inconsistencies or diva behavior.
Bart Scott, a former Raven, is a team-first player, who is used to success and will be among several veterans that will hold Edwards up to a high standard. A lot of Jets players who probably used to talk smack to Edwards during games know that he can really help their team make a serious run this season — if he plays to his potential.
Like the enigmatic Randy Moss, who was held accountable by teammates and joined a Patriots franchise with some direction and structure, Edwards has a chance to prove himself as a reliable No. 1 receiver.