2013 NFL free agents: Josh Cribbs wants to return to Cleveland

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

The Browns' wide receiver and return specialist is set to hit free agency, though he's made it clear he wishes to remain in Cleveland.

After eight years with the Browns, wide receiver and return specialist Joshua Cribbs is an unrestricted free agent. Cribbs has been one of the more exciting players in the league, despite playing for a team that has had very little success on the field in his time with them.

Cribbs, known more for his return skills than his receiver ability, is an extraordinary athlete. He played quarterback for the Kent State Golden Flashes. He is the school's all-time total offense leader with 10,839 yards. He also holds the record for rushing touchdowns with 38, pass completions with 616, passing yardage with 7,169 yards and touchdowns scored with 41. While at Kent State, Cribbs became one of two true freshmen in NCAA history to both run and pass for over 1,000 yards.

Despite his athleticism, though, Cribbs went undrafted in 2005 and was signed by the Browns as an urestricted free agent. He didn't do much in the way of receiving, but he did set Browns franchise records in 2005 as a kick returner with over 1,000 yards in returns and a touchdown scored against the Lions.

In his eight years, Cribbs has caught 107 passes for 1,161 yards and seven touchdowns. He has also rushed for 753 yards and two touchdowns, he has over 10,000 kick return yards and eight touchdowns and over 2,000 punt return yards and three more touchdowns.

Cribbs has made it clear that he wishes to remain in Cleveland and wants to retire as a Brown, but he said in a recent interview that he is unsure of the team management's feelings about re-signing him:

"Ultimately, we all know that that it comes down to the upper management and the organization. After the coaches voice their opinion, it's left up to them for negotiations and everything. I'm not too confident in upper management because I'm not sure what their plans and their intentions are. Right now, it doesn't seem like the interest level is there with the upper management, but there's ways around that. I've got to just weigh my options.

"Like I said, I want to be a Brown and want to continue my career here and retire a Cleveland Brown. That's my intention and I'm going to go as far as I can with the team and meet them to make a compromise, and at the same time, I won't devalue myself. I know I haven't been really used to my potential and all of that, but I just want to be able to help this football team see a playoff and get to the playoffs and see what we can do in the postseason. I think we're so close and I just would hate to have to leave the team right when we're on the cusp of winning, right when we're getting the pieces together to make this a winning organization. That's where we're at right now."

The Browns are close to the top when it comes to how much money they're able to spend. They may want to re-sign Cribbs just due to his loyalty to the team and because of his return ability. However, the team hasn't had much luck in surrounding whichever quarterback is under center with a lot of talent and the Browns may be looking to find someone who is a better receiver and can return punts and kicks as well.

If Cribbs does hit the open market, he will likely receive quite a bit of interest as every team is consistently searches for a good special teams player. However, without the great skill as a receiver, Cribbs may not get the paycheck he's looking for.

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