Agent: Browns low-balling Cribbs
As new team president Mike Holmgren takes over the Cleveland Browns this week, one of his first orders of business is getting off to a very rocky start.
Peter Schaffer, the agent for Pro Bowler Josh Cribbs, says the Browns are "insulting" his client with low-ball offers. Cribbs made a base salary of $900,000 this past season, and Cleveland offered to raise his annual salary to $1.4 million over the final three years of his contract, Schaffer said.
Cribbs, who is Cleveland's most popular player, is coming off the most productive season of his career. He returned three kickoffs and one punt for touchdowns, rushed for 381 yards, and caught 20 receptions for the Browns (5-11), who finished the season on a four-game winning streak.
On Wednesday, Cribbs also was awarded Special Teams Player of the Month by the NFL.
"Not only is it insulting, but it's illogical," Schaffer said of Cleveland's offer. "There is no way to objectively justify it."
This has been an ongoing saga between Cribbs and the Browns.
Over the past three years, Schaffer said Cribbs was promised a fair deal by multiple power players in Cleveland, including owner Randy Lerner.
A regime change put an end to negotiations last season, but Schaffer said Holmgren taking over as president should not provide another holdup.
"It doesn't matter, because Josh is the same player whether the president is George W. Bush, Barack Obama, or John McCain," Schaffer said. "I'm not worried about that."
Holmgren met with the Cleveland media Tuesday and was asked about Cribbs' contract situation.
"We've been in contact with his representatives even when I was in Arizona," Holmgren said. "I believe players should be rewarded for what they do. I have no problems with that at all. What happens though on occasion is our view of how much that should be and the agent's view of how much that should be differs. We have made an effort."
There is always potential to get better. But as it currently stands, Cribbs' camp feels the player did all he could this past season and that loyalty is not being returned.
Schaffer added there is no chance of Cribbs playing for the Browns under the current contract.
"They like to say Cribbs has three years left on the contract, but I can assure them they have no years left on the contract," Schaffer said sternly. "Either this gets resolved by the first day of the league year, or he will never show up for the Browns again and will immediately demand a trade.
"It's not what he wants. Josh wants to be a Brown for life, but love requires a two-way street."
James Walker covers the AFC North for ESPN.com.