And It Starts…

winslowjets.jpgGee, it would be nice if this article was a positive upbeat article about the Browns beginning OTA’s wouldn’t it?

The Browns did indeed begin voluntary workouts yesterday. Twelve voluntary conditioning slash practices will take place over the next three weeks. There will be another round of voluntary workouts prior to training camp. Why the special emphasis here? Two Cleveland Browns did not participate in these vol… oh you get the idea.

Center LeCharles Bentley was the first MIA player. He has not yet taken his team physical that would clear him to play for the Browns. He was supposed to be in New York yesterday to be seen by his personal physician before coming to Cleveland. Let’s remember that Bentley was given a clean bill of health by his doctor last year before Cleveland doctors failed him. I can’t imagine that the answer is going to be different this time from his guy, but none the less Bentley insists that he will play somewhere this year. I hope he does, and I hope it is for the Browns.

The other player not on the field yesterday was Browns TE Kellen Winslow. From Mary Kay Cabot-

Winslow has been in San Diego rehabbing his surgically repaired knee, but it’s still unclear whether his absence is health-related or has more to do with the fact he wants to re-do his contract. Winslow’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, reached by phone on Tuesday, said, “I have no comment on Kellen’s situation.”

Voluntary workouts are widely known throughout the league as mandatory. Even if you are rehabbing an injury, players usually do so at the facility when the team is meeting. Those that stay away from OTA’s? They are usually making a statement. This is when they can get away with skipping out without having it hurt their paycheck. But the public notices. The team notices. So why is Winslow missing? Because he feels slighted. He feels like the Browns owe him something. He thinks that he should cash in on his pro-bowl appearance. He feels that the Browns are in some way ‘doing him wrong’ because they restructured his contract after his accident. I know that Rock is going to disagree with me on this one, but what an arrogant prick!

Make no mistake, the Browns are posturing themselves against this renegotiation. From that same article-

Winslow has not been seen in Berea for most of the offseason and declined a request to be interviewed. Not including bonuses, he’s scheduled to make $4 million in 2008, $4.5 million in 2009 and $4.75 million in 2010. Browns General Manager Phil Savage has made it clear the Browns have treated Winslow well and that he’s under contract for three more years.

Add to that the drafting of TE Martin Rucker, no make that trading away next year’s third round pick to move up and get Rucker. The writing is on the wall here- the Browns aren’t budging. And I don’t think they should. Winslow breached his contract. The Browns had every right to tear up his deal and leave him sitting on the curb by his motorcycle. Instead they offered him a lifeline. They gave him the opportunity, through incentives to make every penny of that first contract, you know the one he held out for the first time around. They could have demanded the bonus money back that they had given him, but they didn’t. Winslow did not have to sign that deal. He could have said no thanks, release me and I’ll rehab and sign with another team. It wouldn’t have been a smart move, but his family could have afforded it, and now he’d be playing for whoever he wanted.

From an ESPN article during the Pro Bowl-

“When I got hurt the contract got renegotiated so some things changed. But I think I’ve proven these past two years that I’m one of the elite tight ends. My value on the field … they put an extra DB in the game, and that really changes the whole game. They have to guard me kind of like a wide receiver so, you know, yeah, I’ve got to get that new money.”

After the laughter died down, Winslow added:

“This is my life, what I always wanted to do. My career didn’t start out like I wanted it to with the injuries and all, and I started asking questions like, `Why me, why’d I get hurt?’ But without the struggle, there is no progress, and this is progress. I stayed positive, worked my butt off, and now I’m here.

Um, Kellen? You are scheduled to make $4 million in ’08. $4.5 million next year. Yeah, there are incentives that have to be met, but they are incentives that you agreed to. How about those Tight Ends that were at the Pro Bowl with you? Antonio Gates will make $3 million this year. Tony Gonzalez will only make $1 million, but his signing bonus makes that number jump to around $4 million. Jason Witten is scheduled to make just under $2 million, but again his bonus will bring that number to around the $4 million mark. So what is the problem? Yeah, you may have missed out on some bonus money, but I’m pretty sure that was YOUR fault. I don’t remember the Browns giving you a motorcycle and asking you to learn to do stunts to entertain fans at training camp.

Yes, Kellen Winslow plays hurt. Yes, Kellen Winslow gives all he has when he is on the field. No question about that. But who does he think he is? If he follows through with this posturing and holds out of training camp, he’s dead to me. I know, he’ll be so upset about that. He and Rosenhaus can cry all the way to the bank.

Well, go ahead. Tell me how crazy I am…

(Contract figures from rotoworld.)

  • RockKing

    I don’t think calling him a “prick” is in good taste, but maybe it’s just me.

    Anyway, I actually agree that he doesn’t need more money. He should be paid like a Top 2 tight end, and he is. But I’m not going to start calling him names and getting upset about this until he, you know, actually holds out or starts making a big scene about this.

    And also, can we PLEASE stop pretending like the Browns didn’t rip up his deal out of the kindness of their caring hearts. Lets face facts. If Winslow was a 3rd round pick who did this, they would have cut him. The Browns saw an opportunity to give Winslow time to rehab and then have him under contract for less money than they originally had to pay him. Both sides are at fault here. I said it at the time that the Browns were setting themselves up for this, and that’s exactly what’s happening.

  • Rick

    I was actually containing myself when I chose that particular word. There is little that gets my blood going like the pampered athlete that decides he isn’t happy with his millions and deserves more. Come join the rest of us who are struggling to provide for our families because gas prices are outrageous. I have no respect for those that decide they aren’t going to honor their contract.

    I’d like to hear from Winslow too. I’d like to know what his intentions are, as I’m sure the Browns do too.

  • spencer096

    this is way overblown.

    it’s quite simple…

    Drew Rosenhaus was hired as his agent after Lt. Winslow fired the Polads (I think they were the ones representing him). Rosenhaus CAN’T GET PAID UNTIL A NEW CONTRACT IS SIGNED.

    Rosenhaus wants his cut, it’s completely manufactured by the agent.

    End of story.

  • Rick

    So Kellen doesn’t have the right to say to his agent, no? He doesn’t get to tell Rosenhaus, go ahead and negotiate an extension of the current deal, but I’m going to practice?

    Do I think Rosenhaus is whispering in his ear that he should be paid like a top flight WR instead of a TE? Absolutely. Of course, he’s making the same money that Braylon Edwards is making….

  • Scott

    I too am alright with him missing these OTA, as long as his knee is healthy come the regular season. Whether he’s doing cone drills with his teammates or not means nothing if he misses four our five weeks.

  • RockKing

    Plus, the Browns knew he wasn’t going to be there. The Browns’ official website was reporting that Winslow would not be at OTAs due to rehab on his knee. I think we’re making a mountain out of a molehill here. Once Winslow misses a game because he’s holding out for more money, then I’ll be angry. But for now, he’s just missing some light workouts. No big deal in my book.

  • draftnik1

    spencer, I completely agree. This is 99% agent-driven. If agents had any foresight three years ago, they all should have been increasing the incentive clauses in their client’s contracts to take advantage of new cap money freeing up during the last CBA.

    Rosenhaus is a classic hindsight master. He gets his clients a big signing bonus at the sake of future earnings. Still not clear why this guy gets anyone to sign with him.

  • RockKing

    Because he gets his clients one monster contract. I think the guy is great at his job from that standpoint. He gets what he wants. That’s why the Bengals situation with CJ is funny….a team is actually standing up to Drew.

    I guess that’s what I don’t really like about this post. A lot of sharp words written about a guy who has barely said a word about his contract. We only have one single quote from K2 about this. I could see this post being written about CJ, because he’s all over the media, putting down teammates, running his mouth, etc., but it seems a bit much for Winslow, a guy who since his accident has kept his mouth shut, worked harder than almost anyone on the team, and helped the Browns get back into playing winning football. K2 is a standup guy for that, in my book, and especially after the E:60 report on him, I really think he’s matured a LOT from his days at Miami. I have no issue with K2 right now, nor will I until he starts actually doing things that hurt the team, like sitting out of games.

  • spencer096

    draftnik1…that’s the nature of the NFL. “future earnings” is a joke. NFL players get their cash up front becaue they know the minute something goes awry, the team can just cut them.

    no guaranteed contracts = importance of signing bonuses (antiquated) and GUARANTEED MONEY. thats why Romo’s contract is 1,000x better than Schaub’s even if their contract’s total value is relatively close…it’s all about the cash the players KNOW they’ll see.

    which is also why the NBA and MLB contract situations are a joke. but then again the NBA and MLB players union reps aren’t in bed with their respective commish’s either. Upshaw is just awful at his job.

  • Gordo

    the agent conspiracy theory is a joke. no agent has ever acquired more clients by encouraging people not to play. besides, agents make their biggest take on endorsements, not player contracts.

    you can bet, though, that everyone around winslow, agent or otherwise, is telling him to get his now. that’s the cruel reality of the unguaranteed-contract world of the NFL. when you have leverage, you have to exploit it and get your $$, especially as an injury risk like winslow. if that knee doesn’t recover right, next year $4mm will be the last he makes in pro football. i can’t fault any player for holding out for more money.

  • SamBfromTN

    I agree Rock that Kellen has done anything wrong. He had knee surgery, and while most people are at voluntary, I think it is better for him and the team to be in a place that focuses solely on strengthening that knee.

    Kellen has proven his effort to see the Browns succeed, we shouldnt assume the worst yet.

  • Cleveland Frowns

    Spencer’s angle on Rosenhaus’s role here is interesting. Lord only knows what he’s feeding to K2. Another thing to wonder about is whether K2’s seeming desperation to make more money fast isn’t indication that his injuries are more serious (and career threatening) than we (and the Browns) understand them to be.

    Also, Spencer, great point on MLB and NBA contract situations vs. the performance of the respective union reps.

  • Charlie

    I agree with most of the people on here. If he doesn’t miss any games or cause a distraction, I have no problem with it. The day the NFL makes organizations hold up their end of the bargain on contracts and not allow them to terminate agreements as they see fit is the day I will be indignant over athletes holding out. The life after football for some players isn’t always relaxing-by-the-pool in comfort. They have joint replacements and reconstructions, and diabetes for many of the big guys. Life after football is very expensive from a medical standpoint. Many of these guys physically end up being forty going on seventy. It’s not all glamorous. They deserve whatever money they can get.

    Show up on Sunday, that’s all I ask.