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Newz Forum: FOOTBALL: WInslow and Browns finally reach an agreement

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posted on Aug, 11 2004 @ 01:49 PM
First-round draft choice Kellen Winslow II agreed to terms Tuesday night on a six-year contract with the Cleveland Browns, ending his 12-day holdout.

The contract, which Winslow signed Wednesday morning, is worth $29 million and could bring him up to $40 million if he reaches all his incentives. The deal includes $16.5 million in combined signing and option bonuses.

Winslow attended his first Browns practice Wednesday, wearing a No. 11 jersey, team spokeswoman Julia Payne said. She did not say whether he would play in the Browns' preseason opener Saturday night at Tennessee.

The Browns and Winslow's agent, Kevin Poston, were reportedly $12 million to $22 million apart with Poston seeking a contract similar to the six-year, $54.6 million deal that wideout Charles Rogers received last year from Detroit.

The agreement was reached, however, during a Tuesday night negotiating session between Browns president John Collins and representatives for the former University of Miami tight end.

Conventional wisdom had been that, given the typically confrontational negotiating style of Poston and his brother Carl, the tight end would be the final first-rounder to sign. The Browns, however, were dogged in pursuit of an agreement.

Winslow's signing means there are just two first-round choices -- Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (No. 4 overall) and Patriots tight end Ben Watson (No. 32) -- who are still without contracts.

The Browns sacrificed a second-round pick, trading with Detroit to move up one spot in April's draft, to select Winslow from Miami with the sixth selection.

Winslow began his holdout on July 30 when Poston rejected the Browns' initial offer -- a less-inviting six-year, $40 million deal, in which the money was to be distributed differently than the accepted contract. The original deal, which the Browns announced publicly two weeks ago in a clever public relations offensive, matched what Washington gave safety Sean Taylor, the No. 5 selection and Winslow's former Miami teammate.

The move was an intriguing bit of gamesmanship, one in which the team seized some of the public momentum away from the agents, whose history is rife with long holdouts and contentious bargaining.

In essence, Cleveland put its offer on the table for Winslow, and then publicly put its cards on the table, demonstrating to its fans the importance of getting the tight end into camp as quickly as possible. reported early Tuesday that Collins was prepared to increase both the signing bonus and guaranteed dollars from the Browns' opening proposal, but that the franchise would not go above its self-imposed $40 million total. Collins had actually suggested over the weekend that the Browns would probably enhance their first offer, with some wiggle room available on the signing bonus.

The Poston brothers, sources said, had been seeking a contract similar to the one they negotiated for Detroit Lions wide receiver Charles Rogers, the second overall choice in the 2003 draft. Rogers received $14.4 million in aggregate bonus money. Taylor got about $13 million in total bonuses.

The 6-foot-4, 250-pound Winslow is the son of Hall of Famer Kellen Winslow Sr. His father says that at this point, his son is even better than he was.

The Browns have not had a tight end with Winslow's combination of size, speed and athleticism since Hall of Famer Ozzie Newsome in the 1980s.

Dubbed "The Chosen One," Winslow played in 37 games for the Hurricanes and he started 25 contests. He totaled 119 receptions for 1,365 yards and nine touchdowns. A far better receiver than blocker, Winslow might be used more as an H-back to compensate for some of his in-line deficiencies.

Last week, Browns quarterback Jeff Garcia implored Winslow to get to camp, saying, "You are going to get your riches no matter what, but you need to think about the team."

Garcia said he and Winslow have traded phone messages in which the rookie said he was frustrated with negotiations.

Winslow has a reputation as a fiery competitor, which has caused him problems in the past.

In his final season with the Hurricanes, he made headlines for a postgame tirade following a loss to Tennessee in which he called himself a soldier and compared the game to being at war. He later apologized.

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