Three Players That Need New Contracts If Mike Holmgren Is Next Browns GM

Richard BairdContributor IIDecember 20, 2009

KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 20:  Joshua Cribbs #16 of the Cleveland Browns carries the ball during the game against the Kansas City Chiefs on December 20, 2009 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Mike Holmgren has lots of decisions to make.

First, he has to decide if he wants to come to Cleveland.

If he does come to Cleveland, he'll be confronted with questions concerning the future of Eric Mangini, questions about the quarterback, and countless roster decisions and personnel moves.

Three things should be easy decisions. The Browns must rework Josh Cribb's current contract, and they should work on new contracts for free agents to-be Jerome Harrison and Lawrence Vickers.

Josh Cribbs once again took the Browns on his shoulders to keep them in the game in the first half. His electrifying returns have thrilled fans for years, and this year he seems to have taken on a locker room presence that resonates not only with the other players, but also with the community.

Before the Steelers game, Cribbs rose everyone's expectations and clearly stated that the Browns could win. His big return on special teams and success in the wildcat formation led the Browns to victory.

Now the Browns have won two in a row and look like a team that believes in their ability to score.

The front-office's resistance to signing Cribbs a new deal this offseason has probably cost them millions, but they must have a new deal in place this offseason to keep Cribbs in Cleveland for the rest of his career.

Jerome Harrison has always been an intriguing prospect. He had a strong rushing average (6.8 ypc) in limited action during his young career. Yet the two knocks on Harrison have always been his size and ability to pick up the blitz on passing downs.

Harrison has proved in the last several weeks that he can be a tremendous offensive weapon. He has proven to be a reliable receiver out of the backfield (62 yards and 2 TD's against San Diego). This week, he racked up the third highest single-game rushing total in NFL history with 286 yards. He scored 3 touchdowns in the second half, including the winning touchdown, a 28 yard scamper with 44 seconds left.

Harrison carried the ball 34 times, proving he's no stranger to a heavy workload. During his senior season at Washington State, Harrison carried the 304 times, or over 27 times a game. He also totalled 1900 yards and 16 touchdowns.

The Brown's brass and Mike Holmgren have two games to see if Harrison is capable of being a feature back, but evidence to this point suggests that he can carry the load quite capably.

If you watch the highlight reel of today's game, you'll see Josh Cribbs returning kicks and Jerome Harrison gashing the Chief's defense for huge gains.

If you look more carefully, you'll see Lawrence Vickers going to work blowing up defenders and paving the way for Harrison. The fullback position is often a thankless job, but Vickers will certainly get his due from Harrison for a record setting performance and praise from his coaches and teammates in the film room this week.

Vickers has been a good fullback in the league for a while. He blocks well and he can catch the ball out of the backfield. The Browns should lock him up and make sure he stays in Cleveland.

If Holmgren does indeed come to Cleveland, he must make sure Harrison, Cribbs, and Vickers are all in a Browns uniform next year.