Browns' Cribbs confident new deal is on way
BEREA, Ohio — Josh Cribbs hopes his patience is finally going to pay off in a big way.
Cribbs had expressed optimism this week that he'd get a new deal with the Browns. On Thursday, he told The Associated Press why he was encouraged: Cribbs said the Browns told him during the team's bye week they want to have a new contract in place by the end of the season, ending what has been a sticky negotiation since training camp.
"They told me they wanted to do something before the year was over," Cribbs said. "Coach (Eric) Mangini has been optimistic about it as well. He's told me directly I deserve a new contract and he would work to get it done."
Cribbs wouldn't say specifically who told him the deal could be finalized by the end of the season, only that it happened while the Browns were off the weekend of Nov. 8.
In their first game following the open week, Cribbs was carted off the field on a stretcher following the final play of the team's loss to Baltimore on Monday Night Football. He said then that the entire situation increased his urgency to get a new deal done.
Cribbs has three years left on his existing deal, which pays him $6.77 million over six years, but believes he merits a raise now. By far the most dynamic player on the Browns roster, Cribbs has blossomed into an integral part of the offense after building a reputation as a special teams star his first four years in the NFL.
"We're positive. We're upbeat," Cribbs' agent, J.R. Rickert said. "I'm confident both sides will put forth the best effort they can to get something done."
Rickert believes it is in the Browns' best interest to get something done before the season ends, so any signing bonus can be added to his salary this year and count against the 2009 salary cap. The Browns are believed to be well under the cap.
If a new labor agreement cannot be reached and there is no salary cap next season, that won't matter. But Rickert still believes negotiations are heading in the right direction after the two sides experienced contentious moments over the last six months.
"I believe the situation can be worked out," he said.
Mangini on Thursday again declined to offer a timeline to complete a new deal, but reiterated his admiration for a player who is quickly becoming the team's MVP.
"I really like Josh. I really do, not just as a player, but as a person, as a part of the organization, his dedication, his sacrifice," Mangini said. "He is selfless."
Cribbs began voicing his displeasure with his contract over the summer, when he sat out a voluntary minicamp. But he reported to training camp on time and has done all that has been asked of him by the new Browns' coaching staff.
"I'm very happy with the way I handled it," Cribbs said. "I kept my head down and just kept playing."
Negotiations could get slowed again by the Browns' search for a new head of football operations.
The team brought in Mike Holmgren this week, but he left town without a new contract. Cribbs feels he's already been burned once by a regime change. Cribbs has maintained he was promised by owner Randy Lerner after last season he would get a new deal, but that changed when former GM Phil Savage and coach Romeo Crennel were fired and Mangini was hired.
With talk of a restructured football operation again bubbling up, Cribbs acknowledged he's concerned he'll have to start all over again.
"How many more times do I have to prove myself?" he said.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers’ Roethlisberger hurting after big hit
- Steelers veteran defenders want young teammates to step up
- Steelers’ Brown combats disruptive defensive ploys
- Steelers notebook: Defense sags in NFL rankings because of struggles against the run
- Steelers not receiving big returns on their offseason investments
- Steelers film session: Missed tackles prove costly
- Robinson: There’s no telling when play of aging QBs will fall off
- Big Ben’s struggles emblematic of loss
- Steelers’ Bell gets bulk of team’s touches
- Steelers intrigued by athleticism of free agent Jones
- NFL looking for boost with Thursday night games, starting with Steelers-Ravens