Friday, July 30, 2004
BEREA, Ohio -- The Cleveland Browns want to make rookie Kellen Winslow Jr. the highest paid tight end in NFL history.
The club has offered Winslow, the No. 6 overall pick in last April's draft, a contract that would exceed the $31 million deal Kansas City's Tony Gonzalez signed before the 2002 season. Gonzalez's deal included a $10 million signing bonus, the most ever paid to a tight end.
In an unusual move designed to put pressure on Winslow's agent, Kevin Poston, the Browns released a statement two hours before the club opened training camp to announce that they had made their "best offer" to the former University of Miami star. Teams almost never disclose contract figures -- even after the deal is done.
But the Browns publicly provided the framework for negotiations.
They said their deal matches the seven-year, $18 million contract safety Sean Taylor, the No. 5 overall pick and Winslow's former college teammate, signed earlier this week with the Washington Redskins.
Taylor received a $7.2 million signing bonus and a total package that could exceed $13 million in guaranteed compensation.
"Given the close personal and competitive relationship between Kellen and Sean Taylor, as well as their equal talent level on different sides of the football, we did not want to penalize Kellen for being picked one slot below his former teammate," Browns president John Collins said in the statement.
"Faced with the opportunity to get Kellen in camp on time, we made our best offer."
Kevin Poston and his brother Carl have a reputation for demanding the most for their clients. The Redskins announced before the draft they would not take Winslow because he was represented by the Postons.
In their statement, the Browns said they examined Gonzalez's deal. It said their offer "provides Kellen Winslow the opportunity to far exceed Gonzalez' compensation."
The Browns have had negotiations with Poston all week. The sides had face-to-face negotiations on Wednesday at the team's headquarters.
At the time, coach Butch Davis said the club would not negotiate in the media, but that is exactly where things have gone.
"That's clearly not what we're going to do not only with Kellen, but any of the draft choices not only this year but in future years," Davis said earlier this week.
The Browns traded a second-round pick to Detroit and moved up one spot from No. 7 to No. 6 so they could select Winslow, the son of Hall of Famer Kellen Winslow.
Cleveland's last three first-round picks -- center Jeff Faine, running back William Green and defensive tackle Gerard Warren -- briefly held out of camp before signing.
The Browns fear that if Poston rejects their offer, Winslow's holdout could be lengthy.