The Miami Dolphins talked to the Cleveland Browns about Joshua Cribbs last season -- once for sure in the days and weeks before the October trade deadline and perhaps once another time much earlier.
Obviously the Browns, which traded away talent like it was going out of style, didn't budge on trading Cribbs. But all that may change now.
The Browns have a new football czar in Mike Holmgren and apparently Cribbs and his agent have gotten the message that a new contract is not in the immediate offing for perhaps the most outstanding and electric return man in the NFL.
So Cribbs believes he's played his final game in Cleveland. "Thanks everyone," Cribbs wrote this week on his twitter feed. "I love playing for the browns (sic) & put my all in to (sic) it, but it doesn't look good 4me(sic) at this point on (sic) returning. I don't believe I made the to do list for the team in 2010."
Why does Cribbs believe he's gone? Because on-going negotiations yielded an offer from Cleveland that would have paid him approximately $1.4 million per season over the next six years with approximately $400,000 to sign. I must say that's a lowball offer.
And Cribbs agrees. "I'm sorry guys," he said. "I don't want to seem greedy but fair is fair and there is no way around that. I'm the best at what I do but the lowest paid ..."
So Cribbs intends to request a trade on the first day of the new league year and hold out if he doesn't get one.
"We’re going to formally put in a request for a trade,” agent J.R. Rickert told NFL.com. “He will not set foot in that facility again. If they had offered even something like $2.5 million per season we could have worked with them, but to me this offer is indefensible."
The fact of the matter is this is Mike Holmgren's first contract squabble in Cleveland. I doubt he wants to lose it. The fact is Cribbs is over-performing on a contract that has three years remaining. The fact is both sides have good leverage.
So don't be surprised if the Browns try to turn this mess into a draft pick with which Holmgren can bring in "his guy."
Enter the Miami Dolphins.
As we know, they need dynamic playmakers because there are precious few of those on the team. They could stand an upgrade at punt returner and kick returner. They could also use Cribbs in the Wildcat package, which he ran quite effectively in Cleveland. He averaged 6.9 yards per rush in 2009.
Oh, and did I mention Cribbs took snaps as a wide receiver also? He caught a modest 20 passes for 135 yards but obviously that is not his primary value.
His primary value is special teams. He returned three kickoffs and a punt for touchdowns this season. He has 10 return TDs in five seasons.
The downside is the guy does fumble. He had six fumbles in 2009 while fulfilling all his various duties. For perspective, you should know Davone Bess led the Dolphins with six fumbles in 2009.
So should the Dolphins be interested in Cribbs? Of course, they would be. But would they pull the trigger on a trade that would also involve paying the guy a new contract? That another matter.
If all Cribbs wants is $2.5 million per year, you should know the Dolphins are paying Ted Ginn Jr. an average of $3.5 million per year. Which is the better player?
And if the Browns are asking a second- or third-round pick for Cribbs, it probably sounds like an exceedingly high price to pay. But I remind you second- and third-round picks don't always turn into good players.
The Dolphins spent a second round pick on Pat White last year. They also spent a third round pick on Patrick Turner. Neither contributed very much, if at all, in 2009.
So what would you do?