Marvez: Cribbs gets wish, agrees to long-term deal

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Joshua Cribbs #16 of the Cleveland Browns runs by Swayze Waters #1 of the Detroit Lions during...
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Alex Marvez

Alex Marvez is a Senior NFL Writer for He has covered the NFL for the past 18 seasons as a beat writer and is the former president of the Pro Football Writers of America. He also is a frequent host on Sirius XM NFL Radio.

“Pay the Man” has been the unofficial rallying cry of Josh Cribbs and his supporters as he tried to secure a new contract with the Cleveland Browns.

On Friday, the franchise finally did.

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A source told that Cribbs has agreed to a new three-year deal, and the club announced the deal later in the day.

The NFL’s all-time leading scorer on kickoff returns, Cribbs will receive $4.3 million in 2010 and is slated to collect $7.1 million through 2012, the source said. But this contract can easily become far more lucrative through numerous layers of incentives and rollover clauses, many of which have a low production threshold. Cribbs could pocket as much as $18.5 million over the next three seasons should he continue to play at the same high level as in 2009.

``I'm excited,'' Cribbs said at a news conference. ``It's been a long road. It worked out. We reached a good compromise. I'm happy to wear this uniform proudly, as I've been saying the whole time.''

The new deal replaces the six-year, $6.77 million contract Cribbs signed after a standout 2005 rookie season as an undrafted college free agent. Cribbs had outplayed the contract and threatened a holdout if a new deal couldn’t be finalized by agent J.R. Rickert.

With the Browns’ front office now led by team president Mike Holmgren and general manager Tom Heckert Jr., Rickert had better success in negotiations than with two previous management regimes.

Holmgren said:``To ask with three years left is unusual. But in Josh's case, they had a good point. He had, in my opinion, outperformed his contract to a certain extent the more I studied it. I could say, 'No, we're not going to do it.' But that would be kind of silly. He had certainly earned the right to have a discussion at the very least. Then once we dove into it, someone's got to make the call, so I made the call.''

Besides excelling on kickoff returns, Cribbs handles Cleveland’s punt returns and is a jack-of-all-trades on offense. His biggest impact with that unit in 2009 came as a Wildcat quarterback. Cribbs averaged 6.9 yards on his 55 carries with one touchdown. He also caught 20 passes for 135 yards and another score.

Cribbs, though, is most dangerous on kickoffs. He led the NFL with a 27.5-yard average and became the second player in league history to record two 100-yard returns for scores in the same game (against Kansas City in December). Cribbs has scored eight times on kickoffs in five NFL seasons.

Speaking of other players who, like Cribbs, had been disgruntled with the Browns' previous front office, Holmgren said: ``We'll get to each case as best we can, be as fair as we can, but we are going to maintain certain principles when we deal with these things. I trust we'll be here for a while, so how we do things will eventually be figured out and maybe we can head off some of these things at the pass. All I can say is, 'I'm sorry' if these promises were made. I will hold to my promises.''

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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