Browns players catch Mangini's drift after coach trades Edwards

BEREA, Ohio -- Empty hangers, a pair of shoulder pads, one penny and a single blade of grass were all that remained in the corner stalls in the Cleveland Browns' locker room. Those spaces were previously occupied by the team's most animated player and biggest talent.

Career in Cleveland
Catches: 238

Yards: 3,697

Touchdowns: 28

Braylon Edwards was gone -- just like that.

New coach Eric Mangini doesn't tolerate troublemakers.

"This is a business, and the business is winning," Browns offensive 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."

Mangini traded Edwards, the high-maintenance wide receiver whose five seasons in Cleveland were marked by sensational catches, crucial drops and off-the-field issues, to the New York Jets on Wednesday for wide receiver Chansi Stuckey, linebacker Jason Trusnik and two 2010 draft picks.

The trade came two days after Edwards was accused of punching a friend of NBA superstar LeBron James outside a Cleveland nightclub. Mangini shipped Edwards to his former team, which has been looking for a No. 1 target for talented rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez.

A deal involving Edwards has been rumored for months, but it was met with shock by some Browns players still coming to grips with Mangini's methods.

"I was very surprised when I heard," linebacker D'Qwell Jackson said. "Braylon had his troubles here -- whatever issues he had -- with the organization. You never know, and that's the reality of this business. Coach Mangini has a way that he does things. We have to keep doing what we're doing and understand that everybody has to work.

Steve Wyche live chat senior writer Steve Wyche was asked during his weekly live chat how the trade of Braylon Edwards could pay off for the Browns.

"Edwards wanted out of Cleveland and Eric Mangini wants his type of guys there. I don't think Edwards fit the mold and after his alleged fisticuffs with one of King James' friends, that pushed things over the edge."

"Cleveland parted ways with someone it didn't think was part of its long-term future and got a decent young guy in Chansi Stuckey and draft picks." **Transcript ...**

"Everybody has a job to do, and everyone's replaceable."

Mangini wouldn't say if Edwards' alleged altercation, which came hours after he failed to catch a pass for the first time in 62 career NFL games, played a part in the timing of his trade.

He didn't have to.

"Personal conduct is important to me," Mangini said.

Mangini said Edwards didn't ask to be traded and that they had a good conversation before parting ways.

"This is a fresh start for him," Mangini said. "In terms of what we were able to do with the trade, it's good for us."

This is the second major deal that Mangini has struck with the Jets, who fired him in January after three years as their head coach. On draft day, Mangini sent them the No. 5 pick, which they used to draft Sanchez.

Before dealing Edwards, Mangini said he discussed the move with Browns owner Randy Lerner. He also said the team had other opportunities to move Edwards.

"Contrary to popular belief, we do trade with teams other than the Jets, and we do talk to teams other than the Jets," Mangini said. "You move forward based on that."

In trading the dissatisfied Edwards, Mangini sent another message to his players: Play by my rules or else.

Mangini previously traded tight end Kellen Winslow, who like Edwards, let his ego get in the way of team goals. Still, the two were Cleveland's best offensive weapons, combining for 162 catches, 2,395 yards and 21 touchdowns in 2007, when both made the Pro Bowl.

Quarterback Derek Anderson disputed the idea that Edwards and Winslow were a two-headed monster.

"I wouldn't say they were always a problem," Anderson said. "Everybody has issues in their life. They weren't here raising heck day in and day out. Both of them are really good football players and will continue to do good things in their careers."

Mangini's my-way-or-the-highway approach has rubbed some Browns players the wrong way. There has been grumbling about his fines for petty offenses such as parking in the wrong stall or having a cell phone go off during a meeting.

But rules are rules, and linebacker David Bowens, one of 10 former Jets who Mangini brought from New York, said players need to understand there will be penalties for misbehavior.

"It's not like it's a total dictatorship around here," he said.

Thomas believes it should be clear by now that Mangini and his coaching staff mean what they say.

"That's been the message since he got here," Thomas said. "You're gonna do things the way you're supposed to do it and told to do it, and if you're not, then we'll find somebody else."

Edwards was walking a thin line with Mangini long before he allegedly punched James' friend in the face. The NFL and Cleveland police are still investigating the incident.

Edwards was out partying in March with wide receiver Donte Stallworth the night that Stallworth drove drunk and killed a pedestrian in Miami. Edwards was an irregular participant in Mangini's offseason programs and missed part of minicamp and training camp with an ankle injury that he sustained while playing basketball.

Before Mangini's arrival, Edwards' list of transgressions was growing nearly as fast as his stat sheet of 100-yard receiving games.

Edwards argued with teammates and criticized coaches. He chartered a helicopter to attend the 2006 Ohio State-Michigan game despite being told not to go. He severely cut his heel while running in his socks after practice. Last year, he pleaded guilty to driving 120 mph.

Edwards is gone but not forgotten. As he headed out to practice, backup Browns quarterback Brady Quinn pointed to his shiny orange cleats -- a pair left behind by Edwards.

"In honor of Braylon," Quinn said.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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