Among the many decisions facing the Browns in the upcoming offseason is whether to bring back Kellen Winslow Jr. for the 2009 season. Winslow is signed through 2010.
Winslow says he wants to return to the Browns in 2009. Whether that happens could hinge on who shapes the roster next season.
Winslow will not play against the Eagles Monday night because his sprained left ankle hasn't healed. He said even if the Browns were playing in the Super Bowl on Monday, he would not be able to suit up, as much as he would like to.
"I love being a Cleveland Brown," Winslow said. "The guys here, we don't know who's going to be here next year. You just have to focus on this year. That's all you can do."
Winslow and general manager Phil Savage butted heads in October after Winslow said the Browns were not doing enough to protect their players from staph infection. Winslow said the Browns told him to keep his staph infection from earlier in the month a secret.
Browns owner Randy Lerner, Savage and coach Romeo Crennel decided to suspend Winslow for a week, which included the game in Jacksonville. The suspension was rescinded the day before the game (Winslow did not play) and his fine was reduced from a game check exceeding $235,000 to $25,000.
If Savage is still in charge of the football team after Lerner evaluates Savage and Crennel following the season, Winslow might be traded for draft picks. Recurring offensive interference penalties, his demand for a new contract and his general health are among other reasons the Browns might choose to part ways.
If Lerner decides to strip some power from Savage and puts someone else in command while hiring a different coach, the new regime might look at what Winslow can do on a football field and give him another chance.
"Mr. Lerner and I have a very good relationship," Winslow said. "I'm very happy with him."
Savage met with the media last week. He has chosen not to address any subjects beyond this season. Asked the day after lifting the suspension about Winslow's future beyond 2008, Savage would not answer.
"I will say since that whole ordeal I've seen Kellen a number of times," Savage said last week. "Prior to that week, he and I had always gotten along well and we have gotten along well since. For whatever reason, during that two-week period, we got put in a situation where it looked like we were at total odds. Obviously there were a lot of other factors involved but there is only going to be two names in it publicly."
Winslow caught 89 passes in 2006 after playing just two of 32 games his first two years. He caught 82 passes and scored five touchdowns last season when the Browns won 10 games.
Rookie Martin Rucker, drafted with the idea of teaming him with Winslow, has one catch.
Tight end Steve Heiden has 23 catches, third most on the team. Heiden caught 12 passes last season.
The Winslow Dilemma
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