BEREA, Ohio -- Apparently 80 isn't the only number
Kellen Winslow Jr. is after.
Winslow's agent rejected a contract offer -- potentially worth at
least $40 million -- from the Cleveland Browns on Friday that would
make him the highest-paid tight end in NFL history.
Winslow, the No. 6 overall pick in April's NFL draft, was not on
the field as the Browns opened training camp.
"I believe the most disappointed guy is Kellen for not being
here from the beginning with his teammates," coach Butch Davis
He's not the only one displeased.
The Browns are hoping to avoid a lengthy holdout with Winslow,
the former University of Miami star. Winslow was issued No. 11 by
the club during minicamp but wants No. 80 -- the number his father
wore during his Hall of Fame career for San Diego.
However, No. 80 currently belongs to Aaron Shea, who will only
give it up for the right price.
"It's going to cost him now," Shea joked. "And it's going to
go up every day."
In an unusual move designed to put pressure on Winslow's agent,
Kevin Poston, Browns president John Collins released a statement
before the club opened camp to announce that the Browns had made
their "best offer" to Winslow.
Collins said the Browns proposed a deal that matched the one
safety Sean Taylor, the No. 5 pick and Winslow's college teammate,
signed this week with Washington.
Taylor's package included a $7.2 million signing bonus that
could exceed $13 million if he reaches incentives. The contract can
reportedly escalate to $40 million over its length.
Also, the Browns said their offer would "far exceed" the $31
million deal Kansas City's Tony Gonzalez signed in 2002. That
package included a $10 million signing bonus, the most ever for a tight end.
The Browns' negotiating tactic is unusual because teams almost
never disclose contract figures -- even after a deal is done. But
the Browns, who earlier this week said they would keep talks
private, publicly provided the framework for negotiations.
Poston wouldn't elaborate on his decision to reject the offer.
"I do not negotiate in the media," Poston told The Associated
Press. "We are continuing to negotiate with the Browns to obtain
for Kellen Winslow II his fair market value."
Winslow is expected to be a major weapon this season for
quarterback Jeff Garcia, who already is convinced the 6-foot-4,
250-pounder will be a star.
"Better than advertised," Garcia said following practice.
"He's definitely the real deal and he's going to be a great player
for years to come."
Winslow's holdout began one day after the New York Giants gave
No. 1 pick Eli Manning a rookie-record $20 million in guaranteed
money and No. 2 overall pick Robert Gallery received a potential
$18.5 million in guaranteed bonuses from Oakland.
It's unclear what Poston wants, but the Browns feel their offer
that matched Taylor's was more than fair.
"Given the close personal and competitive relationship between
Kellen and Sean Taylor, as well as their equal talent level on
different sides of the football, we did not want to penalize Kellen
for being picked one slot below his former teammate," Collins said
in the statement.
"Faced with the opportunity to get Kellen in camp on time, we
made our best offer."
Poston and his brother, Carl, have a reputation for demanding
the most for their clients. The Redskins passed on Winslow in the
draft partly because Winslow chose the Postons as his agents.
One positive sign for the Browns is that wide receiver Reggie
Williams, another client of the Postons, agreed to terms with
Jacksonville on Friday. He was the ninth overall pick.
In their statement, the Browns said they examined Gonzalez's
deal and their offer "provides Kellen Winslow the opportunity to
far exceed Gonzalez's compensation."
The Browns traded a second-round pick to Detroit and moved up
one spot from No. 7 so they could select Winslow, who was
frequently double-teamed in college.
This one could last a lot longer.
But for now, Winslow has the support of his teammates.
"I'd understand if he has to be out a few days or a few
weeks," Green said. "Nobody has any bad feelings toward Kellen."