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Walker's weekend mailbag: Browns and Cribbs

1/9/2010

As I correctly predicted Monday, the AFC North had its most explosive news week of the season.

The Pittsburgh Steelers fired assistants, Cleveland Browns president Mike Holmgren retained head coach Eric Mangini, and two teams have huge playoffs games this weekend.

But the most interesting story, according to our division inbox, was Browns Pro Bowler Josh Cribbs' contract situation.

Let's get to some questions on Cribbs and the Browns.

Andy from Canada writes: Can you clarify exactly what the Browns are offering Cribbs?

James Walker: Andy, Cleveland offered to raise Cribbs' salary to $1.4 million per season over the final three years of his contract. He made a base salary of $900,000 in 2009, which means the team offered a $500,000 raise from last season for the next three years.


Kovacs from Santa Monica wants to know what it would take to keep Cribbs in Cleveland.

Walker: As far as specific numbers to stay, that's really up to Cribbs, Kovacs. But in talking to his camp this week, the sense I got was that $3 million or $3.5 million per season would've been a good starting point. Maybe it would take more in negotiations. Maybe it would take less. I don't know. But that's just an educated guess on my part based on what other players are making and how shocked Cribbs was by Cleveland's $1.4 million offer.


Matthew King from Liberty Township, Ohio wants to know what players comparable to Cribbs are making.

Walker: That’s a great question, Matthew, because that’s part of the problem. Cribbs is very unique. Who else returns kicks, plays on coverage teams, and lines up at quarterback and receiver? Devin Hester of the Chicago Bears would be the closest comparison, because plays some special teams and is a full-time receiver. According to a report in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Hester averages $5.45 million per season. Others returner/receivers like Andre Davis of the Houston Texans and Roscoe Parrish of the Buffalo Bills average $4.3 and $3.2 million per year, respectively.


Jordan from Annapolis, MD wants to know if the Baltimore Ravens would show interest in Cribbs.

Walker: At this point, I doubt Cleveland wants anything to do with trading Cribbs, Jordan. But in the event the Browns make a move, Baltimore would be the last team on their list. Cleveland would rather Cribbs sit a year than play for a division rival.


Jon Douglass from Murfreesboro, TN writes: James, I am curious about your thoughts on Cleveland bringing in Mike Holmgren and what the future may hold for the Browns?

Walker: This was a great move for the Browns, Jon. This team finally has an experienced, proven leader in the building who brings instant credibility to Cleveland. Holmgren should make the Browns better, but he has a big climb ahead of him. The Steelers and Ravens do not make a lot of mistakes when it comes to personnel. So they’re consistently in the running to win the AFC North. In addition, the Bengals right now are on the upswing. So Holmgren has little room for error if he aims to catch up, pull the Browns out of the basement, and reach the top of the division.