Pro Bowl kick returner Joshua Cribbs wants to restructure his contract with the Cleveland Browns, multiple sources told ESPN.com on Monday. But progress has been slow this summer because Cribbs has five years remaining on his current deal.
Cribbs, who made it known publicly Tuesday that his agent is talking to the Browns, signed a six-year contract worth just under $6 million before the 2007 season.
Since then Cribbs has led the NFL in total return yards, in addition to leading the Browns in special teams tackles last year. Now, according to sources, Cribbs and his representation are seeking a pay increase and recently approached the Browns about their desire for a new deal.
"I couldn't help but notice," Cribbs said with a smile after Tuesday's practice. "I was happy for him. He deserved every bit of it. He's a great talent and it's good to see another returner get his pay."
Both Cribbs and Hester are widely regarded as the top special teams players in their respective conferences, yet there is a big salary disparity between the two. Hester's average annual salary was bumped up to approximately $5.5 million, compared to Cribbs' annual average of $997,000.
It's unknown at this point what type of deal Cribbs is seeking. But based on his production, it's likely Cribbs wants a contract comparable to Hester's in terms of guaranteed money.
"We have no public statement at this time," Cribbs' agent, Peter Schaffer, said Tuesday, according to The Associated Press. "Everyone is optimistic and it's Josh's goal to win a Super Bowl with the Browns this year."
Cleveland is considered one of the up-and-coming teams in the NFL, coming off a 10-6 season that saw seven players make the Pro Bowl in 2007. But success also came with a price as players such as quarterback Derek Anderson, running back Jamal Lewis and defensive tackle Shaun Rogers all received sizable deals with Cleveland this offseason.
Pro Bowl tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. also has expressed displeasure with his current contract. But general manager Phil Savage said publicly in June that the team is at or near its budget.
James Walker covers the NFL for ESPN.com.