Browns don't plan to deal Cribbs
BEREA, Ohio -- While his teammates laughed and shouted around him, Josh Cribbs sat quietly by his locker on Friday, reading e-mails and sending replies on his cell phone.
His message? He's not happy.
Cribbs is stuck in a contract dispute with the Cleveland Browns. He wants a new deal, but Browns coach Eric Mangini has been unwilling to renegotiate or add an extension to the current pact, which runs through 2012.
Mangini said on Friday that Cribbs is not being shopped, leaving the special teams star caught in a bind if he is not traded and cannot get a new deal in Cleveland.
"I'm gonna be stuck," Cribbs said. "I don't know what I'm going to do right now. It will tremendously disappoint me if nothing gets done. That's no secret. I'm going to be very disappointed."
Mangini wouldn't offer a timeline for when, or if, he would look at giving Cribbs a new deal. But he made it clear he has no intention of trading Cribbs, who leads the NFL with 522 kick return yards and a 16.3-yard average on punt returns.
At least five teams have inquired about Cribbs, according to published reports. The trade deadline is Tuesday, but Cribbs has not asked the team for a trade. He said on Friday he doesn't want to be traded.
"No interest in moving Josh Cribbs," Mangini said. "Josh is going to be a Cleveland Brown. ... [The contract] is not something that we're focusing on. In terms of a timetable, it's an organizational thing we'll look at. Josh and I are trying to get ready for the game on Sunday."
Cribbs' agent, J.R. Rickert, said he doesn't intend on asking the Browns for a trade before Tuesday's deadline because "that isn't what Josh wants. Joshua wants to stay in Cleveland."
However, Rickerts also said he is frustrated with the lack of direction he is receiving from the Browns, and hasn't received a clear answer to whether they are open to given Cribbs an extension.
"If you have no intention of extending him," Rickert said, "it's only right to tell us that."
Cribbs' deal was negotiated by his previous agent and with the Browns' previous regime. Rickert believes that since all parties are new, it is fair to ask for a new extension that will keep Cribbs in Cleveland for the rest of his career.
Off the field it weighs on me, but on the field I'm Josh Cribbs. I have to show up for my team. I'm a captain and a leader, so I have to set an example by my play on the field.” -- Browns wide receiver Josh Cribbs
"With a new GM, a new coach and a new agent, let's put our collective heads together and put something together," Rickert said. "I don't think that position is too unreasonable to take. If the Browns reject that kind of thinking from one of their leaders, then what kind of message are they sending to the rest of the league? That's not a good situation."
The Browns travel to Pittsburgh to face the defending Super Bowl champions, a team Cribbs has gashed with kick returns. He's had touchdown returns of 92 and 100 yards against the Steelers in two of the last three years.
Now his role has expanded on offense. Cribbs has caught nine passes this season and rushed for 56 yards, including a 31-yard run last week against Buffalo. Mangini reiterated on Friday he would like to try Cribbs as a defensive back at some point.
Cribbs is a team captain and trying to project the right image while saying what he wants. It's a fine line that he admits can get difficult.
"Off the field it weighs on me, but on the field I'm Josh Cribbs," he said. "I have to show up for my team. I'm a captain and a leader, so I have to set an example by my play on the field.
"You have to just wait for yours, I guess. I'm trying to be patient and play football, because when all else fails, that's all I know how to do right now. I'm not a business guy, I'm not a contract guy. I'm going to continue to give my heart and soul to this team. What more can I do?"
Mangini already has overhauled the Browns roster. Since the end of last season, Cleveland has traded away former Pro Bowlers Kellen Winslow and Braylon Edwards. Trade rumors again surfaced earlier this week when Brady Quinn put his house up for sale, although Mangini said he has no interest in moving the quarterback who lost his starting job after just 2½ games.
With all of the upheaval, teammates have grown used to seeing some of the team's biggest stars shipped out of town.
"[Cribbs] means a lot to this team. A lot of guys respect him. He's a playmaker," running back Jerome Harrison said. "Can we imagine him not being here? No. But can it happen? Yes. But he's here, so we're going to enjoy having him."
NotesDT Shaun Rogers rejoined the team and will start on Sunday. Rogers missed two days this week while dealing with personal matters, but returned to the team Thursday afternoon. ... Mangini said a decision on K Phil Dawson won't be made until closer to kickoff. Dawson returned to practice this week after missing the last three games with a calf injury, but with a mix of rain and snow showers in the forecast for Sunday, Mangini may stick with Billy Cundiff, who is 5 for 5 on field goals while filling in for Dawson.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press
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