Another NFL star wants a new contract. What's new? This time the Cleveland Browns' jack of all trades Josh Cribbs is the one desiring a new deal. The biggest problem is that he has three years left on his current contract. Ouch! Should he get his wish? Does he deserve a new contract? Yes, Cribbs deserves that and more. He deserves the respect of his peer and fans alike. Why? He did not ask for a new contract but an extension so that he may play out his career in the talent starved city of Cleveland.
I am not the biggest advocate of redoing deals because, if you signed it you should honor it. Most players seeking a new contract, though, are players who, out of greed want more. They do not necessarily deserve more. What exactly constitutes deserving more? Leadership does. A selfless attitude does. And a team first attitude definitely does. Cribbs embodies each of these and more.
Consistency. Consistency is the most important factor in deciding if a player is deserving of more. Look at Anquan Boldin. Discluding his sophomore season he has at least 70 catches every year since 2003 and add to that his 41 touchdown catches in the same period and that defines consistency, consistency in the highest order. Cribbs is also the epitome of consistency. He has at least one return for a touchdown every year since he came into the league. In fact he owns the franchise record for return touchdowns (8), barely into his fifth year in the league. He has never had a season with less than 1,000 kick return yards.
Potential is also of great importance in considering a player for a reworked deal. Can a player continue near, at or better than the pace they are on? Age is just as important as skill in forecasting a player's potential. Also, among the deciding factors in position and body type. Take a look at Dante Hall. Hall is a speed based return man. He uses his 5'8" 185 lb. body to blaze past coverage units and change direction on them at a moment's notice. His 12 career return touchdowns are evidence of his unique skill set. His skills have diminished as age has taken his speed away and he's only 31. Cribbs is not a speed returner. He has amazing field vision, great decision making ability, fantastic strength and more than enough speed. Cribbs is not the little speedster Hall is or even the blazer Devin Hester (5'10" 185lbs). Cribbs will be able to maintain his consistency due to his talents and his size (6'1" 215). Oh, and did I mention he's only 26 years old? He has a number of great years left to add to his already franchise record hold statistics.
Cribbs is the face of the franchise. He can play quarterback, running back, wide receiver, safety, kick returner, punt returner and special teams gunner. He is actually on pace to break his own personal record for punt return yards in a season. His personal best is 405 yards in 2007 (he currently has 286 in only 6 games). Cribbs is the player on the field the most. He is more than just a man who succeeds with the ball only. As a gunner he has at least 20 special teams tackle the last two years (and ore than a dozen every year he has been in the league). If he wasn't a Pro Bowl return man he would be a strong candidate for special teams player representative.
He his a hometown player. Cribbs is a product of Kent State University. He has been a team player and has not allowed the contract negotiations impede his play. Cribbs said, "Off the field it weighs on me, but on the field I'm Josh Cribbs. I have to show up for my team. I'm a captain and a leader, so I have to set an example by my play on the field." He may not play a full time skill position like Boldin nor is he ever going to. But, he will, however, consistently add to his franchise record and draw fans with his winning attitude and electric play. And the biggest reason is, he wants to succeed and finish his career in the city of the birth of his professional career in front of the fans that have grown to adore him. Cleveland, as a fan of this player, this leader, give him the money and guarantee the fans an amazing, electrifying player to follow for years to come.