Cleveland municipal court judge Michelle Denise Earley, who could have sentenced the 28-year-old free-agent wide receiver to up to six months in jail, cautioned him to avoid situations that could land him back in court.
"Do I get it? I do," Edwards said as family members watched from the public gallery.
Edwards, who formerly played for the Browns, didn't comment before leaving the courtroom through a side door but let off steam in a tweet: "Not the best of days so far ... but I'm trying to stay positive!"
Edwards was serving 18 months of probation after he pleaded no contest in January 2010 to a misdemeanor charge. He was accused of punching a friend of LeBron James outside a Cleveland night club.
It was during that probation that he was charged with driving while intoxicated in Manhattan.
Edwards pleaded guilty Friday in New York to a misdemeanor DWI charge in a deal that calls for no jail time or probation if certain conditions are met.
His attorney in Cleveland, Patrick D'Angelo, raised the issue in court of whether Edwards' probation had expired in early July and said later that might be a basis for an appeal. The judge said the violation was already pending during the probation period.
D'Angelo mentioned a litany of charitable activities involving Edwards and said people should say, "Thank you, brother, for a job well done."
But the judge expressed concern that Edwards had gotten into trouble during his probation and said there should be a penalty or probation wouldn't mean anything.
She said Edwards should deal with his high profile by walking away from situations that can escalate and understand that "everybody can't love you and you can't have a problem with that."
Edwards said the drunken driving arrest taught him to hire a driver if he would be out drinking. "I have a lot to lose," he said.
D'Angelo said Edwards could face a National Football League suspension but said he hadn't contacted the league.
The judge also ordered Edwards to do 100 hours of community service.
Unlike Edwards' earlier inactive probation without regular reporting, the judge imposed active probation but said Edwards could contact the probation office by phone instead of going in person.
NFL teams can start signing free agents Friday. They were allowed to start negotiating Tuesday, a day after players and owners cemented a contract that ended a 4½-month lockout.
Edwards had 53 catches for 904 yards and seven touchdowns this past season, and he made a clutch catch to set up the Jets' game-winning field goal over the Indianapolis Colts in the final minute of an AFC wild-card playoff game. He has said he'd like to stay with the Jets.
"I would love to be a Jet but the feeling doesn't seem to be mutual with the management," Edwards tweeted Wednesday.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.