Cribbs insulted by Browns’ offer

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CLEVELAND (AP) — Pro Bowler Josh Cribbs feels insulted by the Cleveland Browns’ latest contract offer and intends to clean out his locker.

Agent Peter Schaffer said Wednesday night that the Browns failed to live up to previous promises they made to Cribbs. Schaffer said there is “no more middle ground” and that he is “extremely shocked” that new president Mike Holmgren would not understand Cribbs’ value to the Browns.

“I’m not threatening anything,” Schaffer said. “Josh is either going to be treated fairly or he wants out. He’s going there (to the team’s facility) tomorrow to clean out his locker.”

Schaffer said he gave the Browns until the end of the business day to come up with a better deal than the $1.4 million per year they offered. Cribbs has three years remaining on a six-year, $6.77 million deal.

But Schaffer said Dawn Aponte, the team’s vice president of football administration who handles contract negotiations, did not get back to him. The Browns could be excused with more pressing issues since Holmgren just took over on Tuesday and is in the process of deciding whether to bring back coach Eric Mangini.

Cribbs said last month that the team had promised to give him a new contract by the end of the season. Even in the days leading up to Cleveland’s season finale against Jacksonville, Cribbs remained optimistic that something would get done.

However, the Browns have not come through. Schaffer and Cribbs’ other agent, J.R. Rickert, said they did not want to take things public, but that the team left them no choice.

“I’m extremely shocked,” Schaffer said. “I have tremendous respect for Mike Holmgren. I know he knows how to put a team together. I was optimistic that with him coming aboard that he would understand and that Josh would be rewarded. To see there is no change in their position is insulting.”

On Tuesday, Holmgren said he had contact with Cribbs’ representatives when he was at home in Arizona. He intimated that he planned to take care of Cribbs, but only after fair negotiations.

“I believe players should be rewarded for what they do,” he said. “I have no problems with that at all. What happens though on occasion is our view of how much that should be and the agent’s view of how much that should be differs. We have made an effort.

“We will continue to make an effort to handle Josh’s situation. I want Josh here.”

Cribbs was Cleveland’s most valuable player this season. He played wide receiver, quarterback and returned and covered kickoffs and punts. The former college QB also set the NFL career record for most kickoff returns for touchdowns.