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WR/KR Josh Cribbs
Before getting carried away with throwing around $48.9 million, let's remember that 18 players on the Browns roster are up for contract extensions.
Who will fit into new head coach Rob Chudzinski's vertical downfield offense and the yet to be determined defensive scheme?
Below are the free agents that would eat up the most salary cap space if retained. All contract figures come via Sportrac.com
Phil Dawson - K (one year/$3.81 million)
The man, the myth, the foot.
Why Phil Dawson is not wrapped up in a multi-term deal is beyond puzzling.
Having his best statistical season, Dawson made 93.5 percent of attempted field goals and booted seven from a distance of 50 yards or longer.
Since 1999, the 37-year-old has been the only consistent point producer on the team. Mr. Automatic.
If Dawson wants to return, then spend the money and allow him to retire a Brown.
Josh Cribbs - KR/WR (three years/$15.49 million)
Cribbs was given a raise following a phenomenal 2009 season that saw him become the most feared return man in the game. Four total special teams touchdowns will do that.
However, since then his production decreased dramatically on special teams and he hasn't taken a kick back for a score since that magical year.
Injuries and fumble trouble are also becoming more frequent.
Yes, Cribbs remains an excellent defender on that coverage unit and can still make an impact in the Wildcat formation on offense.
No. 16 is a versatile threat when used sparingly as a receiver and out of the backfield as well.
The former Kent State QB is known to openly complain about wanting more playing time and got into trouble for posting controversial Twitter comments following the loss to Denver.
This incoming coaching staff need to decide if at 29 he can contribute to its style of offense.
If Cribbs takes a realistic pay cut, then there is a good chance he can stay on board.
Benjamin Watson - TE (Contract: three years/$12 million)
Staying healthy, averaging over 10 yards per catch and not dropping the ball, all point to bringing Watson back for 2013 as a smart use of cap space.
Plus, the 32-year-old demonstrated chemistry with both starting quarterbacks over the past two seasons. Colt McCoy (2011) and Brandon Weeden (2012) each found the tight end on a regular basis.
At 6'3" and 255 pounds, he provides stability to a young and unproven TE group.
Offering an extension buys the Browns some time to see what they actually have in prospects Jordan Cameron and Brad Smelley.
Sheldon Brown - CB (three years/$15.25 million)
Keeping Brown around would be conditional on his moving to the free safety position. A return to outside corner would not be a good use of funds.
This would allow his vast experience to be utilized and eliminate the mismatches that occur on the perimeter.
At 33, the inability to keep pace with the league’s fast and physical receivers is a problem that cannot be overlooked.
The cerebral 11-year veteran did, however, put together his best statistical season in Cleveland for both tackles (52) and interceptions (3)
Brown is also a role model for this young defensive backfield and continues to break down plays with the best of them.