Browns begin task of signing Winslow

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 29, 2004

CLEVELAND - Choosing Kellen Winslow Jr. was easy for the Cleveland Browns. Signing him may not be.

The Browns traded a second-round pick, swapped first-rounders with Detroit and used the No. 6 overall selection in last weekend's NFL draft to select Winslow, a tight end with Hall of Fame pedigree and potential.

But before Winslow can begin living up to expectations, the Browns will have to negotiate a long-term contract with his agent, Kevin Poston, who in the hours after the draft began laying down some parameters for talks.

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''A lot of teams had him (Winslow) No. 1 on their board,'' said Poston, who along with his brother, Carl, are known for driving a hard bargain.

The Postons also represent St. Louis tackle Orlando Pace, who was franchised by the Rams and is seeking more money. Other Poston clients include New England cornerback Ty Law, San Francisco linebacker Julian Peterson and Washington linebacker LaVar Arrington. All have had contract problems.

The Redskins are currently in a dispute with the Postons, who filed a grievance on Arrington's behalf that claims the team owes him more than $6.5 million.

Shortly after arriving in Cleveland last Saturday, Winslow said he planned to report to summer training camp on time - as long as he got a fair deal.

''The way I see it,'' said the Miami product and son of Hall of Famer Kellen Winslow Sr., ''you need to give me No. 6 pick money. Look at last year's No. 6 pick, and I'm in camp.''

Last year's sixth selection, Georgia defensive tackle Johnathan Sullivan, got a seven-year, $19.1 million contract from New Orleans, including an $11.4 signing bonus.

The usual starting point for the next class is 10 percent over the previous year.

However, Poston has already indicated Winslow may be an exception to that rule.

''Kellen could easily be the LeBron James of the Browns,'' Poston said, referring to the Cavaliers' rookie of the year. ''He's that talented. When you negotiate with top-value players, to come up with that value is not easy. My job is to make sure he gets a fair deal.''

Last summer, the Browns had a tough time signing their draft picks, and none of the 2003 class matched Winslow's high-profile.

Cleveland took the unusual step of signing players to five-year contracts. Typically, low-round picks - after the first and second round - sign two- and three-year deals so it doesn't effect their fourth year when they are eligible for free agency.

Center Jeff Faine, the No. 21 overall pick a year ago, missed the first week of training camp in a contract holdout. If the Browns don't get a deal done quickly with Winslow, his holdout could exceed Faine's by several weeks.

The Postons were able to get their top rookie client, wide receiver Charles Rogers, into Detroit's camp last summer after a brief holdout.

Kevin Poston couldn't promise he'd do the same for Winslow. Not without the Browns help anyway.

''It takes two to dance,'' he said.

Browns coach Butch Davis doesn't think Winslow's contract will be a problem. But it's only April, and there's no urgency with training camp nearly three months away.

Winslow will be at mini-camp this weekend with Cleveland's other draft picks, free agents and veterans. Attendance is mandatory, so Winslow has to show up.

It may be the last time the Browns see him for a while.