Cribbs To Skip First 'Voluntary' Minicamp

OBR EXCLUSIVE: He's perhaps the Cleveland Browns' most electrifying player. And he's very unhappy. John Taylor reports that Josh Cribbs is so upset about progress on a new deal that he will skip the team's "voluntary" minicamp this week...

Barring an unexpected and unforeseen change of heart over the next 24 hours or so, Josh Cribbs will not be participating in the first "voluntary" full-team minicamp of the Eric Mangini Era, multiple sources have told The OBR.

The "voluntary" minicamp begins on Tuesday of this week, and there is "virtually no chance" Cribbs will be taking the field with the club.

Cribbs' agent, J.R. Rickert, when reached via cell phone by The OBR yesterday, refused to comment on the status of his client or how contract talks have progressed.  He did allow, though, that he will release a statement tonight to address the state of the Cribbs situation.

However, a source familiar with the situation tells The OBR that talks between the two sides on a new deal "have gone nowhere.  Absolutely nowhere."  The last time the Browns spoke to Rickert regarding Cribbs' contract was a week ago.

One Browns source stated that "the team is having a hard time figuring out a value to place on what Josh brings to the team.  He's obviously a tremendous football player, a tremendous asset to the team and to the city, but we all just have to find some type of way to gauge financially what is acceptable in relation to what he does and to the [salary] cap."

Cribbs' current contract, signed before his breakout 2007 season, was a six-year, $6 million extension which contained a $2 million signing bonus.  There are four years remaining on the deal, with base salaries of $620,000 (2009), $635,000 (2010), $650,000 (2011) and $790,000 (2012) scheduled according to NFLPA documents. Additionally, there are "up to $400k" escalators built into each remaining year of the deal, with only the final escalator voidable by the club.

Cribbs is also eligible for $25,000 in workout bonuses in each remaining year.

As The OBR has reported in the past, Cribbs is not necessarily looking for a new deal right now; he is, however, looking for some type of meaningful progress in the talks.  Apparently, said progress is not to the return specialist's liking and he has made the decision to skip the first round -- at least -- of "voluntary" camps.

The two sides have not exchanged specific numbers throughout the course of their talks.  Instead, the source said, they have talked "concepts".

It's believed Cribbs would be amenable to a contract laced with incentives tied to his participation on the offensive side of the ball.

The biggest source of Cribbs' consternation with the state of his current contract is the fact that he was promised by owner Randy Lerner, ex-general manager Phil Savage and ex-head coach Romeo Crennel on multiple occasions last year that the Pro Bowler "would be taken care of" following the 2008 season.

After the firing of both Savage and Crennel, it was reiterated to Cribbs by Lerner that he would still be taken care of as had been promised.

It was Cribbs' understanding, based on subsequent conversations with the current management, that the issue would be dealt with in earnest following the 2009 draft.  A little over three weeks since the April 25-26 draft, he has yet to see the type of movement he desires.

Based on their current actions -- or inactions as some might be wont to label it -- the new regime of Mangini and GM George Kokinis is in no hurry to make good on promises made by their predecessors.

And, in the end, there's a very good chance that the Browns' current stance will force the Cribbs' camp into adopting a stance in the not-too-distant future that nobody involved wants to see: "Pay me or trade me."

An e-mail seeking comment from the organization regarding this latest development has yet to garner a response.

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