No.17 for No. 17? Could be.

At least that’s what’s being reported in the news and apparently talks are much further along than mere speculation at this point.

And with the NFL Draft less than two weeks away, now’s the time when most deals begin to heat up.

The Giants know that they sorely missed their No. 1 offensive play maker down the stretch in 2008 and its indirect affects—defense’s game planning the team differently, no go-to guy in passing situations, less running room, etc.—were a big reason for their collapse in December and early January.

And with the amount of talent assembled by GM Jerry Reese for the upcoming season, New York knows that it can ill afford to drop the ball (no pun intended, Braylon) and not fill in this missing link.

Edwards is just a year removed from an 80 catch, 16 touchdown season. He was on the cusp of announcing to the NFL that he was the next superstar receiver until 2008 happened. That’s when he, like most Browns, saw his production tail off dramatically and thanks to numerous drops he finished off the season with 55 catches and only three touchdowns.

Still, the move makes sense on many levels.

Prior to 2008, Edwards was not known for having poor hands.

Having that characteristic as a receiver doesn’t get you drafted with the third pick in the 2005 NFL Draft. So it was most likely an aberration.

Secondly, Plax’s presence was felt much further than his catches. Opposing teams were forced to double his side of the field and that opened up things for everyone else. Often times, Toomer and Smith would find themselves in one-on-one matchups which Eli was able to exploit, and the result was an 11-1 start.

Then Plax’s “night on the town” took place and everything changed. Teams game planned the Giants differently and were able to jam the outside receivers while bringing an extra safety into the box. You know the result.

Braylon would command a double team, and this would once again open up the running game and other receiving outlets. And if they chose not to double Edwards, odds are they’d get burned. He is only 26 and just entering his prime.

If the deal goes through, a nice thank you card to Bill Belichick might be in order as to his being available in the first place.

His offspring, if you will, love to purge the rosters they inherit and bring in their own guys to run the “system.”

And after dealing away tight end Kellen Winslow Jr., and the reports of wide out Braylon Edwards and quarterback Brady Quinn being on the block, it’s apparent that this is what Mangini intends to do.

Too bad for him the “system” only works when you have the quarterback to run it. And at last check, there aren’t too many Brady’s roaming the league or on the upcoming draft boards.

So even if the Giants are forced to part with their first-round pick (No. 29 overall), a third and possibly a fifth, it’s well worth it.

A guy of Edwards’ caliber won’t be found in this year’s draft and a big-time receiver is the missing piece to another Super Bowl run.

And they already have an additional second and fifth from New Orleans for Shockey, plus the compensatory third they were awarded for the free agents they lost after 2007.

So essentially it comes down to Shockey and a third for Edwards.

Like taking candy from a baby.

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