Winslow agrees to contract By Pat McManamon, Editor August 10, 2004
Kellen Winslow's 12-day holdout is over. The Browns and the team's first-round draft pick agreed to terms on a six-year contract Tuesday night, according to a source close to the talks.
Negotiations that continued late into the evening ended with the agents for Winslow agreeing to a deal that could be worth as much as $40 million if he reaches all his incentives.
The team and Kevin Poston, Winslow's agent, said the signing bonus was worth $16.5 million.
Various reports had the Browns increasing the base package before incentives to $28 million for six years. It's not known how much those numbers changed in the final negotiations.
What got the deal completed?
Apparently the influence of two ex-Browns was significant. John Wooten knows Winslow's father, the Hall of Fame tight end, and Wooten and Jim Brown reached out to the Winslows to say they felt the Browns' offer was legitimate.
The two sides talked over the weekend, and then met again Tuesday night. Apparently Wooten urged Winslow Sr. and Poston to come to Cleveland.
Serious talks started early in the evening and concluded with the agreement.
Winslow could be in camp today, and he could travel with the team for the preseason opener Saturday in Nashville.
The Browns targeted Winslow as one of the three players they needed in last year's draft. Tackle Robert Gallery went to Oakland and a trade up with the Giants to land safety Sean Taylor could not be completed. The Browns then moved up one spot - and gave up a second-round pick - to get Winslow.
Winslow is expected to give Jeff Garcia a strong down-the-middle presence.
At 6-foot-4 and 250 pounds, Winslow is an inviting target. He caught 117 passes for the University of Miami the last two years. He scored only one touchdown as a junior and had nine TDs in his career.
The Browns have high hopes for Winslow. Players privately raved about his ability after seeing him in mincamp.
ESPN.com news services BEREA, Ohio -- 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, league sources confirmed for ESPN.com.
The contract is worth $29 million and could bring Winslow up to $40 million if he reaches all his incentives. The deal also includes a $16.5 million signing and option bonuses.
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 is expected to be at training camp Wednesday, but it's not known when he will start practicing with the team or if he will play in the Browns' preseason opener Saturday night at Tennessee.
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 originial 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.
ESPN.com 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 as "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."
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.
Information from ESPN.com senior writer Len Pasquarelli and The Associated Press was used in this report.