Did the Cleveland Browns Find Another Josh Cribbs by Signing Armanti Edwards?

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Updated: October 29, 2013

As the NFL Trade Deadline passed, the Cleveland Browns officially did not trade either of their top receivers, Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron. Instead of dealing a player, the Browns decided to reach out to the free agents list and bring another receiver into the mix—signing former Carolina Panthers wide receiver Armanti Edwards.

Edwards is better known around these parts as the quarterback that shocked the world, taking FCS school Appalachian State into “The Big House” in Michigan back in 2007 and upsetting the No. 5 ranked Wolverines. A dual-threat quarterback, Edwards racked up over 4,000 yards rushing and over 10,000 yards passing from 2006-2009 in college. Granted it was against FCS opponents, Edwards also found the endzone 65 times on the ground and 74 times through the air during his career.

Despite putting up pretty good passing numbers, many thought Edwards could make the switch to wide receiver with ease. The Carolina Panthers were so sure of this move, they utilized a third-round pick in the 2010 NFL Draft to bring in the 5’11” and 185-pound weapon. Despite his ability to play a number of different positions, Edwards didn’t do much on offense during his first two seasons in Carolina—racking up just 11 yards passing, zero yards receiving and 12 yards rushing. It was not until last season, with new Browns head coach Rob Chudzinski as his offensive coordinator, that Edwards did anything in the receiving game—catching five passes for 121 yards.

While Edwards has not really made a contribution on the offensive side of the ball yet, he does have some experience in the return game—where the Cleveland Browns suddenly have an availability after losing Travis Benjamin for the season to a torn ACL. He has returned 36 punts for 253 yards and returned 15 kicks for 295 yards during his short career. While those are not eye-popping numbers by any means, he has proven to be reliable with no fumbles lost in his career. After watching Davone Bess fumble away a chance to tie or win the game on Sunday after Benjamin went out, this is something many Browns fans would welcome with open arms.

With his ability to be lined up at a wide variety of positions all over the field and familiarity with the offense, one has to wonder if the Browns may have found Josh Cribbs 2.0 in Edwards. Granted he was not undrafted, like Cribbs, but the college quarterback attempting to make it as a returner and receiver at the next level comparisons are there. Cribbs is a little bigger than Edwards, but the athleticism and willingness to take contact are similarities the two share.

Either way, with Benjamin going down for the season and the team struggling to find any consistency at the receiver position after Gordon and Cameron, there is certainly an opportunity for Edwards to make a name for himself at either position. With Bess and Little struggling, a guy like Edwards could come in and make an impact in an offensive system he knows from last season with Chud.

Maybe this is looking into things a little too much and he will never make an impact for the Browns, but with the lack of production from other players and 4.4 speed from Edwards, why not give the kid a chance? At the very worst he gives the team a guy with game-breaking speed to insert into the punt return game for the rest of the season. And that on its own is already an upgrade in the eyes of many over Bess and his case of the dropsies this season.

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