Could Josh Cribbs Become an Eagle in 2010?

Written By Bob Cunningham On Friday, January 15, 2010

Cribbs wants out of Dodge and the Birds could use him.

Ever since Mike Holmgren and Tom Heckert have become the top decision makers in Cleveland, everyone has been wondering if and when a deal will take place between the Browns and the Eagles.

It's certainly not a stretch that the two teams could make a deal given the relationship between Andy Reid and Holmgren and Heckert. Let's not forget that Reid is a branch on the Holmgren coaching tree from his days in Green Bay, so there is still a relationship there. Heckert, of course, was the Eagles' GM up until earlier this week.

But the only problem with a deal going through is that the Browns just don't have anyone in whom the Eagles would be interested. That is, unless Reid has become desperate enough to go out and trade for a kick returner/jack-of-all-trades like Josh Cribbs.

On the surface, it would certainly make sense. Reid understands that his team needs a kick returner. He also understands that Ellis Hobbs is probably not going to make his way back to Philly for anything less than a starting spot -- which is not going to happen.

Reid's also not a guy who will allow for a kick return specialist to take up a spot on his roster. He is going to want someone, like Cribbs, who can contribute in other areas as well. Cribbs would certainly fit that bill considering he's played wide receiver, quarterback, and running back -- all with some success.

He's a mismatch nightmare for defenses and is a threat to take a kickoff the distance every time he's back there. He also has made it clear that he does not ever want to play another down for the Browns, so it would make sense for them to see what they could get for him.

But, and this is the most vital part -- what are the Eagles willing to give up, what are the Browns willing to take, and what kind of contract will Cribbs want?

The Eagles would probably be willing to part with a mid-to-late round pick, something like a fourth or fifth, and maybe even Michael Vick. With Cribbs coming on board, Vick becomes very expendable and even a burden at that point.

If Vick was included in the deal, a fifth or sixth round pick would be more likely (if the Browns wanted a fifth, it would have to be in 2011 since the Eagles currently do not possess a fifth round selection).

The Browns might be willing to take Vick since Heckert obviously likes the guy considering he was part of the brain trust to bring him to Philly. However, is Vick someone that Holmgren and Eric Mangini want on their team?

Vick would like the opportunity to start, and he may get that in a camp battle with Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson. Quinn is a former first round pick, but none of the guys in charge drafted Quinn, so there's no loyalty there. They're all worried about fielding the best team, and if it turns out that Vick is the best of the three he would most likely get the opportunity.

In addition to Cribbs, the Eagles would probably ask for a late-round conditional pick. Maybe a seventh round pick that could turn into a fifth based on the playing time and production of Cribbs Vick.

Then, assuming the deal goes through, the Eagles would have to agree to a new contract with Cribbs or Philly will just have to deal with a holdout. A guy in his position -- Devin Hester -- recently got a 4-year, $40 million contract from the Bears. However, Cribbs understands that Hester was signed as a No. 1 receiver, whereas Cribbs wouldn't be any higher than fourth.

He does have added value as a running back and quarterback in a wildcat set, but there's no way to determine a value for a utility man in the NFL. The MLB has those guys and have expected salaries for them, but it has been unheard of in the NFL since the days of the two-way players.

A high-end fourth receiver can probably make about $1.5 million per year, with a backup running back making around $1 million. Figure that an exclusive kick returner the caliber of Cribbs is also worth about $1 million and you come to a base salary of about $3.5 million per year.

That's a bit high, and the Eagles would probably offer something in the $2-2.5 million area. $2.5 would be a fair number for both parties, and Cribbs would probably get a few million up front in a signing bonus.

Then, with Cribbs on board, the Eagles should solve their kick return issues, feel comfortable releasing Kevin Curtis and trading Vick, and have a better bargaining chip with Hobbs if they want him back as a corner.

A lot of things would have to go right for this to happen, but it's something that everyone should keep their eye on in the coming months.

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