The Atlanta Falcons surprised a lot of people on Monday night when the unexpectedly cut defensive end Ray Edwards, a guy they threw $27.5 million at back in 2011. Now Edwards, who was supposed to anchor the Falcons defensive line, is hitting the waiver wire and will be available to anyone who wants him.
The Buccaneers have a history of claiming guys off the waiver wire, and they have a need at defensive end which begs the question: should the Buccaneers take a shot at claiming Ray Edwards?
First off, this needs to be broken down into a fragmented argument consisting of the questions:
- Is Edwards healthy enough to be an impact
- How much will he cost
- Does his presence put the Bucs over the top
- Will his presence clash with the culture being established
Cost: First off, Edwards will cost $3 million dollars of claimed on waivers, as that’s the prorated contract attached to him. If he goes unclaimed, he’s the Falcons problem to pay, but should the Bucs successfully place a claim, he’ll cost the team a cool $3 million.
Impact: Edwards was highly touted coming off that fierce ‘Shock and AWWE (Allen, Williams, Williams, Edwards)’ line in Minnesota during the 2009 season. But he only registered 3.5 sacks in 25 games with the Falcons, and is still dealing with chronic knee problems. He had knee surgery during the 2011 NFL Lockout, but he seemed to have either lost his burst because of it, or was using Jared Allen’s success in Minnesota to inflate his worth. If he comes to Tampa he’ll be plugged into the defensive end spot but the question would be would he start? Currently Michael Bennett is the starting left defensive end and he’s doing more than an impressive job. Da’Quan Bowers and Daniel Te’o-Nesheim are splitting reps at right end in place of the injured Adrian Clayborn. Bennett could be plugged in at right end (so could Edwards, for that matter) but if claimed, at the very least, Edwards adds depth to the Buccaneers defensive line — but be careful not to confuse depth with impact.
Presence/Culture: Right now Greg Schiano has a good thing going for him in Tampa when it comes to the culture he’s created. The guys who have bought in and are playing hard, practicing hard and giving it their all are growing together as a unit. The guys who haven’t bought in and became problems are now gone (See: Kellen Winslow, Tanard Jackson, Aqib Talib). One of the knocks on Edwards is his character and his drive. His last season in Minnesota was spent cursing the front office, damning the coaching staff and pretty much becoming self-involved. That lack of drive was seen in Atlanta as well, as all Edwards wanted to do was get paid and once that happened, he fell off the face of the earth. He fought in an MMA bout while still in Minnesota, clearly demonstrating that he’ll do anything for a buck and isn’t totally focused on football, and he became a vocal anti-Childress voice in that 2010 Vikings locker room. Edwards could have changed; being cut could have humbled him and Greg Schiano might be able to straighten him out. But for eight games and $3 million, is potentially throwing off the culture in Tampa worth it?
Bottom Line: If this was the Ray Edwards of 2009-2010, I’d be all for the Bucs putting in a claim and seeing how things work, because even if Edwards was mooching off of Jared Allen to inflate his worth, for $3 million bucks he’s a bargain. But he’s lacking that burst he had, he may not have all his character issues worked out and he’d be coming into a culture that has been established and isn’t going to win much this year. Does he put the Bucs over the top — the 2012 Ray Edwards does not. If he comes in, realizes the error of his ways and becomes a humbled beast on the defensive line, then yes he would make me drop my crusade against believing this team is Wild Card worthy. But as of right now there’s not enough of that to sell the Bucs or any team in the NFL for that matter on giving Ray Edwards a shot.
Someone will either claim him or give him a one-year deal. But if it’s the Bucs they better be careful, as although this locker room is invested in Greg Schiano, it doesn’t take much to create rifts and there’s a good thing happening in Tampa that might not be worth messing with.