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Steelers Edwards traded to Rams

Steelers receive a sixth-round pick in return

Sunday, September 01, 2002

By Gerry Dulac, Post-Gazette Sports Writer

Troy Edwards finally got his wish. Both of them.

Troy Edwards Faded after rookie season

After realizing he no longer fit into the Steelers' plans, Edwards wanted to be traded to another NFL team that would better utilize the talents that made him a record-setting wide receiver in college.

Yesterday, the Steelers traded their No. 1 pick in the 1999 draft to the St. Louis Rams, the league's most feared passing team, for a sixth-round pick in 2003.

"Sometimes, situations don't go right," Edwards said before the trade was completed. "It wasn't the right situation for me. My style of play is totally different from here. It didn't work out."

The Rams decided to trade for Edwards, the 13th overall pick in the 1999 draft, because they didn't believe they would have a shot to claim him off waivers once the Steelers released him. The Rams have several injuries at wide receiver and are looking for someone to replace Az-Zahir Hakim, who left the team through free agency.

Edwards would appear to be a good fit for the Rams because he runs quick slant routes and is a good runner after the catch. His problem with the Steelers, though, was catching the ball.

"It was an opportunity to add somebody that really kind of fits the mode of what we look for in a receiver," Rams Coach Mike Martz said.

The Steelers told Edwards Friday morning, the day after their final preseason game, they would try to trade him before 4 p.m. today -- the deadline for reducing roster sizes to 53 players. Edwards and quarterback Tee Martin were among nine players who were not present for a team meeting that afternoon with Coach Bill Cowher. The other seven were the ones cut earlier in the day.

Edwards, who once caught 21 passes in a game at Louisiana Tech, won the Biletnikoff Award as college football's top receiver in 1999 and tied Jerry Rice's national record for touchdown receptions in a season with 27.

He had fallen behind Hines Ward, Plaxico Burress, rookie Antwaan Randle El and veteran free-agent pickup Terance Mathis on the depth chart. And, with the development of sixth-round pick Lee Mays as a kick returner, Edwards' chance to contribute on special teams dwindled, too.

Edwards could not be reached yesterday for comment about the trade.

"We're very pleased with the receiving crop as a whole, especially the progress of our newly acquired players," said Steelers director of football operations Kevin Colbert, referring to Randle El, Mathis and Mays. "Given the opportunity to trade a player from this group, we felt, was our best course of action at this time."

The Steelers' first attempt to get rid of Edwards came in March when they left him unprotected for the Houston Texans' expansion draft. The Texans passed.

In an attempt to showcase Edwards, the Steelers moved him up to play in their three-wide receiver sets at the start of training camp. But, to do so, they had to move Ward from flanker to the slot because Edwards does not know how to play the slot. When it became apparent the Steelers had no intention of sticking with that rotation, Ward complained to Cowher that he didn't want to be a "guinea pig" by playing a position in camp he wouldn't play in the regular season.

The final straw for Edwards came when he committed a foolish facemask penalty on the kick coverage team -- away from the ball -- in the first preseason game against the New York Jets.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Gerry Dulac can be reached at gdulac@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1466.

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