FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - Even now, Braylon Edwards ponders what his life would have been like had the Jets not taken a chance on him.
He wonders how different this season, and perhaps his career, would be had the Jets not rescued him from a bleak future in Cleveland.
"Before I got traded here, I didn't see the playoffs on the horizon," said the wide receiver, who spent four-plus seasons with the Browns before being dealt to the Jets for receiver Chansi Stuckey, linebacker Jason Trusnik and two draft choices in October.
"And once I got traded here, our organization was already 3-1 and playing real good football, so I knew, with the core guys this team had, we could go to the playoffs. And here we are."
He's preparing for his playoff debut in the Jets' AFC wild-card game in Cincinnati on Saturday. The Browns, who finished 5-11 and dead last in total offense, soon could part ways with coach Eric Mangini.
"It's a career turnaround," Edwards said of the trade. "One situation, you're down, you're out, you're frustrated, and you see your life or career going in one direction. And then in the blink of an eye, it's going in another direction, a very positive direction."
He told reporters yesterday that he watched "that whole debacle unfold" in Cleveland this season. Although he felt bad for his friends on the team, Edwards said, "I was just really thankful and really happy that that wasn't me this year."
Several of those former teammates - and even Mangini - have texted him since the Jets made the playoffs.
Said Edwards: "They're hitting me up, saying 'Congrats,' 'It's been a long time coming,' 'Wish we could have done it but we didn't.' "
Though 12 games removed from his tumultuous time with the Browns - a period marred by a number of off-field incidents - Edwards constantly reminds himself of how lucky he is. The Jets have given him a new start, his first shot at the postseason, and possibly a place to call home.
"This is definitely somewhere I can see myself being in the future, settling down and trying to make this my home," said Edwards, who is in the final season of his five-year rookie contract.
"I like everything about this organization, especially the fact that we're in the playoffs,'' he said. "This could be it for me. We'll worry about the playoffs right now, try to get this win and another one, and another one. But when the time is right, I definitely would like to stay here."