Did the Browns insult Josh Cribbs?

According to NFL.com, the agent for Browns’ playmaker Josh Cribbs said that his client will formally request a trade after being disappointed with the new contract offer he received from the team.

Cribbs, who set an NFL record for career return touchdowns this season and was promised a new deal above his veteran minimum contract by previous team management, was offered a new deal with an average salary of $1.4 million per season on a six-year deal, according to Rickert, with roughly $400,000 to sign. Cribbs, who is signed through 2012, has been working with the team in an effort to get a new contract since before the season began.

“We’re going to formally put in a request for a trade,” Rickert said. “He will not set foot in that facility again. If they had offered even something like $2.5 million per season we could have worked with them, but to me this offer is indefensible.”

Rickert said that team executive Dawn Aponte told him the offer was final and would not change, and that new team president Mike Holmgren was in agreement with her on the offer.

“Dawn said this was it, this was their offer,” Rickert said. “She said it would be 1.4 today, 1.4 in March and 1.4 in August.”

In 2006, Devin Hester had a breakout rookie year as a returner. If he wasn’t bringing a kick back to the house, he was setting the Bears’ anemic offense up with great field position. Fans and the media often joked that he was their offense.

The following year, the Bears decided that they wanted to try and make him a No. 1 receiver and just like that they limited Hester’s impact. Outside of a couple of big plays a year, he hasn’t been the same player for Chicago that he was his rookie year and the Bears have paid for it.

The Browns should fear that they’re about to lose their Devin Hester by insulting him with a weak contract offer. Cribbs is a game-changer and before Jerome Harrison decided to run like Jim Brown for the final couple games of the season, he was also their only offensive weapon. If Cleveland losses him, then they could wind up making a massive mistake just like the Bears did by forgetting how important Hester was as a returner.

Granted, it’s not the same situation. The Bears also had to decide whether or not Hester was worth the money and they eventually paid him. By making him a receiver, they tried to get the most out of their investment and it just hasn’t panned out.

But the Browns already know what Cribbs can do on offense. He might not be a No. 1 or even a No. 2 receiver, but he’s dangerous out of the Wildcat and explosive in certain packages. If they can’t recognize that, let’s hope he’ll wind up with a team that will. That said, I’m sure Holmgren knows what he’s doing and he does have to worry about 2010 being an uncapped year. So maybe this is just a bump in the road and the two sides will eventually come to an agreement.

If you’re looking for another take on this topic, check out Gerardo Orlando’s from Cleveland Scores, who writes that Cribbs and his agent need to chill out and give Holmgren some time to get his feet under him. After all, the Browns don’t even have a GM yet and Cribbs’ agent is in Holmgren’s grill looking for a new contract.


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