Garcia: "I Will Call Him"

Jeff Garcia is embracing his role as a leader of the Browns, and part of that might be to try to convince Kellen Winslow, Jr, to get to Berea as soon as possible. David brings you the first report on Garcia's desire for Kellen to get his contract done, and what his Browns teammates think about it...

BEREA - Kellen Winslow Jr. can expect a little outside pressure to end his holdout.

The first-round pick's absence from training camp, along with the potential for what could be a long, bitter holdout, is starting to frustrate some of his future Cleveland Browns teammates. And while most NFL veterans refuse to insert themselves into another player's contract negotiations, Browns quarterback Jeff Garcia said it is time to encourage Winslow to get into camp.

"I definitely want to talk to Kellen," said Garcia. "It's been on my mind the last few days. I just haven't done it. I will call him, probably (Wednesday afternoon) and see where he stands."

By Wednesday afternoon, Winslow had missed six days of camp and a total of 10 practices. Clearly, Garcia sees every minute of Winslow's absence as a missed opportunity for the two Browns newcomers to create some much needed chemistry.

"I think it's important for him to get in," said Garcia. "It's one of those things where you need to think about the team. This is a team game. You are going to get your riches no matter what. It's going to come to you, but think about what you have to experience as far as creating a team atmosphere and a team environment.

"Right now, it does not create a real positive situation for him not being here in camp, because we are all out here sweating through it. It is important that he gets out here and joins in the mix with us."

Garcia's willingness to comment on Winslow's holdout was met with mixed reaction in the Browns locker room.

"Jeff is a grown man, and he's going to do what he has to do," said safety Earl Little. "I'm not going to call Kellen - If Jeff wants to call him, that's between him and Jeff. My belief is, he should (try to) get his money. This is the most leverage a guy will have. Right now he has leverage, so he needs to take his time and use it wisely."

On the eve of training camp, the Browns offered Winslow a six-year contract that could pay him $40 million, essentially the same contract former University of Miami pick Sean Taylor signed earlier in the week. Considering the Washington Redskins selected Taylor with the No. 5 pick in the draft - one spot ahead of Winslow - the Browns offer seemed more than fair.

According to Winslow's father, hall-of-fame tight end Kellen Winslow, and agent Kevin Poston, Taylor signed a deal worth less than market value. They have vowed not to make the same mistake.

Taylor may have lent some credibility to that argument Tuesday when he fired the agents who negotiated his contract, Eugene Mato and Jeff Moorad.

According to published reports, Winslow wants $5-to-7-million more than the $13-million in guaranteed money the Browns have offered. He is also asking for achievable bonus incentives that could make the deal worth as much as $50-million. That's a pretty big gap to overcome.

Just how much Winslow will listen to Garcia is debatable. Clearly, the veteran quarterback has a very different view of the negotiation process.

Garcia had to earn his multi-million dollar contract with his performance on the field, working up the ranks from unheralded college quarterback at San Jose State, to five years toiling in the Canadian Football League, to turning a free-agent opportunity with the San Francisco 49ers into three Pro Bowl selections.

He never had Winslow's opportunity to make millions based on his NFL potential.

A call from Garcia would have made little difference to 2003 first-round pick Jeff Faine during his week-long holdout of last year.

"I expect Jeff to be a leader because that's what is predicated from the position," said Faine. "But, really, I was in (Winslow's) position last year, and he has to do what he has to do. He has to get what he thinks is right for himself. If he had called me, it probably would not have made a difference, but that's because I tried to stay as far away from the negotiations as possible. It gets a little personal, with (the team) saying you are not worth as much as you think you are worth, and you don't want to have to hear that."

While Garcia's teammates said they wouldn't take the same initiative in calling Winslow, most said they admired the fact that he seems to be embracing his leadership role early in his career in Cleveland.

"He is the leader of the team right now," said wide receiver Andre Davis. "I think it means a lot to Jeff and the team to have Kellen in here, just to make sure we do get that chemistry going. Winslow is a dynamic player, and getting him in here will help us a lot."

Kenard Lang held out as a rookie first-round pick with Washington in 1997, and said a call from a veteran like Garcia would have forced him to at least listen.

"It would have made a difference if it was from a person I respect, like (former Washington cornerback Darrell Green)," said Lang. "You know he's been playing for a while, so you know what he says isn't coming from the front office. It's coming from him as a person.

"As teammates, you are often stuck between a rock and a hard place. On one end, you want to tell (Winslow) that you want him here, because it helps us as a team. On the other end, I'm not the type of individual who will step in between the financial part and the team part. If he asked me, I would step in man-to-man and tell him that you are missing out on something that will help you out, which is training camp. He is missing a lot by not being here. I know this is a process, but he needs to get here as soon as possible."

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