With the trade deadline a mere five days away, the rumors, innuendo and flat-out falsehoods are beginning to crank up around the league generally and in regard to the Cleveland Browns specifically.
That interest is thanks in very large part to the returner's unhappiness over the state of his contract, and teams are certain the Browns would be willing to at least talk about dealing a player who, on the surface, would seem to be one of the most indispensable members of the roster.
According to two different sources, four teams have been in contact with the Browns regarding Cribbs: the Oakland Raiders, San Francisco 49ers, Jacksonville Jaguars and Miami Dolphins. We have been led to believe that there is at least one additional team that has called the Browns expressing an interest in Cribbs, but, as of late this afternoon, have not been able to solidly nail down the name of that team. There has been some talk amongst league types that the fifth team may be the Kansas City Chiefs, but no source theOBR has spoken to has said the Scott Pioli-led club were indeed the fifth with any degree of certainty.
Another unknown detail is what specifically the Browns would be looking for in exchange for the special teams ace, or what any team interested would be willing to give up in exchange for the Pro Bowler. There have been varied degrees of guesses as to what might be offered and what might be acceptable, but they are just that -- guesses.
It should also be noted that the Browns are not -- underline, bold and italicize the word "not" -- actively shopping Cribbs. However, they will listen to any and all potential suitors if they feel it would help them not just in the here and now, but also if it would help the organization down the road. It should be noted, though, that's an attitude not specific to just Cribbs as this organization is of the same mindset when it comes to any player whose name does not rhyme with "Joe Thomas".
As far as a new contract for Cribbs is concerned, there have been "numerous" conversations between the two sides recently, but no meaningful progress has been made over the past couple of months. Despite reports to the contrary, the talks have not turned "nasty or contentious" in the least. Instead, there is simply a philosophical difference as to the level of pay Cribbs deserves that's blocking any type of resolution being reached.
TheOBR has also learned that Cribbs is looking to add additional years -- perhaps as many as four -- to his current deal, which has three years remaining. Additionally, Cribbs is seeking some type of additional signing bonus/guaranteed money as well as incentives built-in to both the extension and the original deal. It's unknown if those incentives would relate to his performance at wide receiver or on special teams, or a combination of the two.
As of late this evening, Cribbs has not demanded a trade from the Browns. Cribbs has, however, let it be known that he would not be averse to a trade if a new contract is not in the offing; the Browns have let Cribbs know that it's their preference to keep him regardless of what happens with the contract talks.
To bottom line this whole situation, there is certainly a possibility that Cribbs could be dealt. The fact that teams are interested leaves a door open that the Browns aren't slamming shut. That being said, it's looking -- at this point in time and short of getting an unexpected offer that blows them away -- very unlikely that anything on the trade front will happen when it comes to Cribbs.
Not impossible, mind you, but very unlikely.