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Winslow's Contract Extension Can Wait

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What's this? A Sunday in which I'm discussing a piece by Tony Grossi, as opposed to a piece by Terry Pluto? Don't get too excited Pluto haters (the one or two of you that might be out there) -- I'll close this post with an excerpt of his.

As for Grossi though, he recaps a recent interview with Cleveland Browns tight end Kellen Winslow. Among the topics that Winslow discussed: his contract situation from earlier in the offseason:

On the status of his request for a new contract, with three years remaining on his current one:

"It's not up to me. It's up to the Browns and my agent. They're talking. My job is to play football to the best of my ability. The only reason I want an extension, I want to be a Cleveland Brown for a long time.

"I want to be here with Romeo [Crennel, head coach] and [offensive coordinator Rob] Chudzinski and our quarterbacks and Braylon [Edwards], the whole team. I love this town."

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I think we could take this in several different lights. Winslow has an aggressive agent, so pressing contract negotiations are to be expected. Does Winslow really "want" to be here though? Like Jim Thome wanted to stay in Cleveland? Of course the scenarios are different though, because Winslow still has three years left on his contract, where the "my wife is my rock" guy was a free agent.

To answer my own question, I do believe Winslow wants to be in Cleveland. He's on a young team with a ton of promise, the fans have accepted him with open arms even despite his controversial motorcycle incident a few years back, and football isn't like baseball where one team has ten times the budget of another team.

Asking for a contract extension now could save a lot of hair pulling for the future. At full strength, I think the Browns would feel almost obligated to grant him an extension immediately -- much like they did with Joshua Cribbs when they saw that he could deliver the goods. Maybe the reason Winslow's extension has taken so long is because the Browns are more concerned than we know about Winslow's health: three years from now, his knees could be in such bad shape that he's forced to retire. Or, he could be headed to his "nTH" straight Pro Bowl.

The win-win scenario for the Browns? Wait until after this season to decide on an extension for Winslow. Look at the benefits:

  • See how well Winslow holds up this season -- will he have to suffer through the same pain he did most of last season?
  • How well did the young Martin Rucker play in his rookie year? Winslow is a huge part of our offense right now, but if an injury holds him back and Rucker makes all of the catches he's asked to make, the Browns would see their options expand.
  • Not a pressing issue after the season: Winslow will still have two years remaining on his contract after the season, meaning it will not be his free agent year. That means there is no hurry for negotiations presently, if Winslow is indeed just concerned about playing football.

I encourage you to check out the rest of the interview, as Winslow also gives props to former Miami college quarterback Ken Dorsey.

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Now, for the furthest planet from the sun, but seemingly closest writer to what is going on with the Browns at all times: Pluto. Today, he discusses the role that Browns safety Sean Jones will play on the defensive side of the ball this year. Here's my favorite snippet, something that ties in to my thoughts on Winslow:

Jones is in the final year of his contract. He has 10 interceptions over the past two seasons and is capable of making some big plays. He's not done it consistently. He was on the field for 100 percent of the defensive plays a year ago. The Browns have had some preliminary contract talks, but nothing serious. They probably will wait until after the regular season before deciding how to handle Jones' contract for 2009 and beyond.

Personally, I would imagine that Jones would have to be higher on our priority list than Winslow, right? Arguably the best member of our secondary, whether he's Pro Bowl caliber or not, cannot be lost. Brodney Pool has shown to be good in specialized situations, but not as an everydown player yet.

Either way, I think we can afford to handle Jones and Winslow either during the regular season or after this season. Both of them should be major pieces to the Browns on opposing sides of the ball for at least five-six more years, in my opinion.

Expect the Offensive Lineman preview out today, as I try to whip these position previews out before training camp. The cornerback one may run a little bit after camp starts, because I still believe that Savage and company will bring in another free agent or two.