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Cribbs, Browns optimistic about completing new three-year contract

Josh Cribbs has made significant progress on a new contract with the Cleveland Browns, and though there is no timetable to complete it, both sides are optimistic about the Pro Bowl return specialist's future with the team, league sources said Thursday.

The sides have the framework of a three-year deal that would replace the three years left on Cribbs' current contract, but they are continuing negotiations on the amount of guaranteed money, according to the sources.

Cribbs wants around $10 million guaranteed, but the Browns have offered just half of that at this time. Still, there is a sense that gap could be bridged in a few negotiating sessions, and much of the complicated issues -- a multi-layered bonus and incentive structure based on playing time and performance at various positions (special-teams returns, tackles, receptions, rushing yards as the option quarterback, etc.) -- essentially are completed.

Cribbs is open to adding new years to the deal as well, and ultimately, the Browns might opt to add a team option or two beyond 2012, when the new contract would expire.

Cribbs has sought a reworked contract since the end of the 2008 season and was promised one by former Browns general manager Phil Savage.

The tenor of negotiations between Cribbs and the Browns has greatly improved since Tom Heckert took over as GM last month. New team president Mike Holmgren also has played a major role in working to give Cribbs a contract more in line with his worth (his dominance in the return game had much to do with a late four-game winning streak that in essence saved Browns coach Eric Mangini's job).

Earlier this offseason, after negotiations with former team executives broke down, Cribbs vowed to never play for the Browns again under his current contract. Now he's eager and excited about remaining a Brown.

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