John Taylor's Circling the Browns

Mucho scoop per usual: What's the state of contract talks with a key member of the team? Will heads roll over the Winslow affair? What's the real status of Robaire Smith, Joe J and other injured Browns?

-- The Browns and the agent for return specialist/wide receiver Josh Cribbs speak on an almost weekly basis regarding the "concept" of a new contract, but no new deal will be reached until after the end of the 2008 season, The Orange & Brown Report has learned.

A Browns source tells The OBR that the two sides "haven't talked about anything concrete yet" regarding any specific numbers each side will be looking for in a renegotiated deal.

For the time being, cap specialist Trip MacCracken is the point man in the talks, but, as the negotiations heat up, general manager Phil Savage will play an increasingly larger role in the process.

Once the season ends, said the source, both sides will sit down and get into specifics as far as structure and compensation, and the Browns are "very confident a deal will get done in relatively short order."

"Each side has a good feel for what the other wants, and I don't think we are that far apart even today. I think we are all in the same general area," the source said.

Cribbs signed a six-year, $6 million contract in 2007 that keeps him under the club's control through the 2012 season. Of course, Cribbs inked the new pact before his breakout, Pro Bowl '07 season and made it publicly clear in early August that he would like for the Browns to "adjust" his deal at some point in the future.

Cribbs' agent, J.R. Rickert, refused to comment on the state of talks with the Browns, or that there were even any ongoing discussions.

-- To reiterate what I wrote in the ATI forum on Wednesday, defensive lineman Corey Williams is not 100% healthy and will not be 100% healthy for the remainder of the season. His shoulder injury, while not season-threatening at this time, has taken its toll on the lineman's performance and "we likely won't see the real Corey Williams until next season," a Browns source said.

The source added that doctors have determined that continuing to play with the injury will not make the shoulder any worse than it already is.

It's also very likely Williams will undergo some type of "medical procedure" in the off-season. But, before they put Williams under the knife/'scope, the team will try physical therapy to see if that helps alleviate the problem in his shoulder.

The source refused to give the specific nature of the injury, except to categorize it as being "in the shoulder area."

-- Another reiteration, this one on the Joe Jurevicius story that appeared on The OBR's front page Wednesday: wide receiver Joe Jurevicius has NOT decided whether or not he's going to retire and the Browns have NOT determined they do or do not want him back in 2009. Both sides will see how his rehabilitation from multiple staph-related procedures progresses before making a final determination.

Based on talks with those in the know, a healthy Jurevicius would be welcomed back in Cleveland, while the receiver would welcome the opportunity to play one more year – in Cleveland, preferably – if his body will allow it.

Additionally, he has not been placed on injured reserve as of late last night, but, barring "a medical miracle", he will be placed on the season-ending list before this coming Tuesday.

-- To the say the least, owner Randy Lerner was not impressed with how his front office handled the Kellen Winslow situation. It's not fair to say that heads will roll over this issue; it would be fair to state, however, that the missteps caught the owner's attention and disappointed him on several levels. Said one source, "The owner called (Winslow). That just doesn't normally happen."

-- Shaun Rogers might not be the only member of the Cleveland Browns playing a football game in February as talks with a few NFL scouts revealed a couple of surprising players who may have a shot at Honolulu: Brandon McDonald and Brodney Pool. While such an occurrence is not likely to happen, one scout stated very firmly that both are "playing very near a Pro Bowl level. I've been very impressed with the tape I've seen."

-- Speaking of Rogers, here's what one NFC East front office executive had to say about the defensive lineman: "Not only is he the best defensive lineman in football, he's the best defensive player in the league right now. Period." He's playing at a higher level than even Albert Haynesworth? "I said ‘period', didn't I?"

-- The Browns are "cautiously optimistic" that safety Sean Jones will be available for Sunday's huge divisional tilt with the Baltimore Ravens, but the club is not holding their breath that he will be on the field. Jones suffered swelling in his surgically-repaired knee following the win over the Jacksonville Jaguars, and has yet to see the practice field this week.

-- Michael Harrison, agent for defensive lineman Robaire Smith, tells The OBR that his client is slightly ahead of schedule in his recovery from an Achilles injury, and there "is an outside chance he could be healthy enough" to participate in the club's off-season programs. More than likely, though, the Browns will tread lightly with Smith and keep him off the field until the start of training camp.

Smith has yet to begin intensive rehab, but is expected to do so in the next four to six weeks.

The veteran lineman suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon in the season-opening loss to the Steelers, and was placed on injured reserve two days later.



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