Edwards stops Silly Season cold

August, 4, 2011

All talk and no action.

That's how things will play out in the end with Carl Edwards telling Joe Gibbs, "Thanks, but no thanks" to a multimillion-dollar offer to switch teams.

Edwards surprised almost everyone by deciding to stay at Roush Fenway Racing, an unexpected change of heart after Ford officials reportedly tossed in a gigantic pot of cash to help keep him at RFR.

Jack Roush couldn't come close to what Joe Gibbs Racing was offering Edwards, reportedly in the neighborhood of $8 million a year and a $10 million signing bonus.

So Ford came to the rescue in an unprecedented move to salvage the negotiations. It was the right thing to do. Without Edwards, Ford's marketing potential in NASCAR would have decreased substantially.

Jimmie Johnson is the five-time Cup champion and Dale Earnhardt Jr. is the sport's most popular driver, but Edwards is a marketing machine, a prototypical modern-day driver who is as comfortable in front of a camera as he is behind the wheel.

Edwards is Ford's signature star. Every available dollar had to be spent to keep him.

The announcement Thursday also means that the No. 99 Ford is back in contention for the 2011 title. You may say, "When did he stop being a contender?"

Edwards leads in the standings, but had he announced he was going to Gibbs, he was done, as Jeff Gordon said last week. Lame-duck teams don't win championships. Now everyone on the 99 crew will approach the rest of the 2011 season with a renewed vigor to win the Cup title.

Edwards staying at Roush also probably means the other free agents stay put as well. Edwards was the kingpin in Silly Season. Had he left RFR, it could have caused a domino effect with other free agents making moves to fill in the pieces of the puzzle.

Edwards has effectively eliminated the options. Clint Bowyer probably will stay at Richard Childress Racing, assuming Childress can line up the funding. Juan Pablo Montoya is likely to stay at Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing. Ryan Newman probably stays at Stewart-Haas Racing.

Gibbs still has room for a fourth car, but that hinged on Edwards driving for Home Depot to challenge Johnson and Lowe's. No one else really fills that role for Home Depot the way Edwards would, and Gibbs officials have said repeatedly they wouldn't expand to a fourth car unless all the pieces were in place with the proper funding. Without Edwards, the proper pieces aren't there.

Joey Logano may stay in the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota after all, but there must be some leftover hard feelings on Logano's end and major disappointment for Home Depot officials. Making that work going forward won't be easy.

So don't look for major changes in the driver lineup now. A few things will change. No one knows what will happen with Red Bull. Maybe Mark Martin and Brian Vickers will be part of a new deal there, maybe not.

With Edwards returning to Roush, there's no place for others to go. It was all talk and no action.

Oh well, there's still Danica Patrick to talk about.

Terry Blount

ESPN Staff Writer



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