Since it appears the NFL lockout will go well into the summer, the AFC North blog has decided to gradually begin looking at potential free-agent targets within the division. In doing so we provide a disclaimer that teams cannot discuss players during the lockout. Therefore, we are speculating on potential matches.
The starting defensive end has been solid for the Minnesota Vikings. Edwards recorded 16.5 sacks over the past two seasons in Minnesota, despite sharing the spotlight with talented Vikings defensive end Jared Allen.
Now Edwards, 26, will be looking to cash in and should be one of the top free agents this summer. Cleveland certainly has the money to spend and a big need on the defensive line. The Browns will switch to a 4-3 scheme this season and recently spent their first two draft picks on defensive tackle Phil Taylor and defensive end Jabaal Sheard.
Could Edwards be the final piece to Cleveland's rebuilt defensive line? The Browns started the offseason with little on their front four. But a group with Edwards, Sheard, Taylor and Ahtyba Rubin would be a young and talented nucleus to build around for years to come.
Edwards is an Ohio native (Cincinnati), which also helps. Often, the Browns have difficulties convincing free agents to come to Cleveland when teams in more attractive cities provide similar contracts. Another factor: would Edwards be willing to play for a rebuilding team that's still at least two years away from contending?