Cribbs Running Away From Mini-Camp

Cleveland Browns special teams ace Joshua Cribbs has made his living running away from would-be tacklers. Now he may just find himself running away from the Cleveland Browns if he doesn't get a new contract soon. Heading into the Cleveland Browns first voluntary full team mini-camp with new head coach Eric Mangini, it appears Cribbs, a Cleveland fan favorite, will be absent. Apparently there is a misunderstanding regarding a promise that was supposedly made by owner Randy Lerner.

Cribbs is upset that the Browns new brass has yet to make an attempt to address his current contract. Cribbs claims that Randy Lerner assured him after the old regime was fired that he would make good on Phil Savage's earlier promise that he "would be taken care of".

Earlier this week the Browns organization made this statement:

"Contrary to published reports this morning, no one from the current Browns organization, including Owner Randy Lerner, has ever made any promises to Josh Cribbs with regard to his contract status."

The bottom line here is that somebody isn't telling the truth. This statement obviously can’t be sitting well with Cribbs and can only cause more problems because the Browns are basically calling Cribbs a liar. In the past, Josh Cribbs has been nothing but a hard working player who always put the team's needs before his own. That isn't the type of player who would fabricate a story claiming that he was promised a raise when he wasn't.

On the outside it seems that Cribbs is Mangini's ideal type of player; hard working, all hustle, impact player and not a distraction in the locker room. It has been rumored that Mangini has shown interest in putting Cribbs on defense for 15-18 plays a game. Giving Cribbs a larger role outside of special teams could be the reasoning for the Browns heavy pursuit of former Tennessee Titans free-agent Chris Carr after last season. Carr eventually would sign with AFC North rival Baltimore.

If you can think back to 2005, Josh Cribbs was an undrafted running-style QB out of Kent State in the MAC. He put up crazy numbers with the ball in his hands while crushing MAC rushing records along the way. Back in 2005 B.W. (Before Wildcat), teams were afraid to take a chance on a QB who prefers to run before he throws so Cribbs found himself trying out for the Cleveland Browns while still living with his wife and kids in their small apartment just outside of campus in Kent, barely making enough money to pay the rent. Cribbs impressed Romeo Crennel and Phil Savage enough that he was added to the roster and signed his first NFL contract with the notion that he would most likely make his living as a specialist. His parents were still living back in his hometown of Washington, D.C. and his dream of being able to provide a better life for his family was about to come true. Cribbs wanted to secure his longterm financial future so in 2006 he signed a six year deal.

Although Cribbs has previously expressed some regret for tying himself down to a six year, $6.7 million cap-friendly contract, he has vowed to not let it affect his play as he spent the next 3 seasons proving that he is worth more than the modest contract he signed. He has since fired his previous agent and signed on with J.R. Rickert, who has informed the Browns to find a trading partner if a new contract can't be worked out for his client.

Cribbs has obviously outplayed his guaranteed salary of $645,000 that he will be due at the end of this upcoming season and it seems Mangini has shown interest in increasing his roll on the team. When you look at the $15 million that Chicago's Devin Hester was guaranteed with a chance to escalate to $40 million with performance incentives, it’s not hard to figure out why Cribbs and his agent are seeking a new deal. In a world where sports stars are getting disgustingly large amounts of money to play a game, Josh Cribbs honestly deserves more than what he's getting. In Chicago, Hester has already excelled in his role outside of special teams, while Cribbs has yet to prove he can be a dependable receiver and is waiting to be given a shot in the defensive secondary if needed.

Cribbs and his agent are taking a chance. The major questions are how far are Cribbs and Co. willing to go to get a new deal and how likely are the Browns to trade a talented young player who is under contract for the next four seasons? Stay tuned because this thing could get ugly!

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