From the day he was introduced as head coach of the Cleveland Browns, Eric Mangini has preached hard work, personal responsibility and versatility. He and his new regime have been consistently focused on bringing an atmosphere of professionalism and accountability to the team which is a breath of fresh air when looking back on past Browns staffs.
The offseason has proved to fans that Mangini is going to practice what he preaches. His first draft was filled with players who fit this mold. Alex Mack, David Veikune and Brian Robiskie are all known for their football smarts as well as being people of strong character. He made deals to bring in Abram Elam and Eric Barton who are leaders on the field and in the community. Quickly he has molded this team in his image.
That being said, the fact that Joshua Cribbs has not been given a new contract is ludicrous. From the moment he came to Cleveland after his time at Kent State he has committed himself to the team and worked hard to become a contributor. His success on special teams over the last few years was one of the few bright lights on a dismal Browns team. He was rewarded for that, with a contract that runs through 2012, but his stock keeps rising.
Mary Kay Cabot of the Plain Dealer recently reported that Cribbs’ talent “justifies a new contract” after proving to the team that on offense he might be good enough to win the No. 2 receiver job opposite Braylon Edwards. There is also talk of him playing in the secondary while Brodney Pool recovers from preseason injury. These are all signs that Cribbs may not be a one trick pony anymore.
Although the Browns can’t renegotiate deals with every player based on their performance over the course of a single season, this is a unique case that requires a deeper look. If the Mangini era is going to be a successful one, than making sure the players you need to succeed are in house is a must. Joshua Cribbs is one of those players. If Mangini truly covets football smarts, and versatility is something he desires in his players, than he’s found his man.
Most fans don’t mind if a player is paid fair market value. Especially if that player is as electrifying as Cribbs. Sure, the fans in Cleveland have been burned in the past. Too much money has gone out the door to players like Gary Baxter, Dontev Stallworth and others who haven’t earned it. But, if you are going to gamble, it’s best to do it on a sure thing.
If the Mangini regime thinks that Cribbs can contribute beyond the role he has on Special Teams than redoing the contract makes sense. This team needs players like Joshua Cribbs. He is in a class by himself. It would be money well spent and an investment sure to pay out in the end. He will put fans in the stands and points on the board. Who knows? If he plays defense, he might even prevent some points from getting on the board. Another thing Mangini is hopefully preaching.
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