On Friday, the franchise finally did.
A source told FOXSports.com that Cribbs has agreed to a new three-year deal.
The NFL's all-time leading scorer on kickoff returns, Cribbs will receive $4.3 million in 2010 and is slated to collect $7.1 million through 2012, the source said. But this contract can easily become far more lucrative through numerous layers of incentives and rollover clauses, many of which have a low production threshold. Cribbs could pocket as much as $18.5 million over the next three seasons should he continue to play at the same high level as in 2009.
The new deal replaces the six-year, $6.77 million contract Cribbs signed after a standout 2005 rookie season as an undrafted college free agent. Cribbs had outplayed the contract and threatened a holdout if a new deal couldn't be finalized by agent J.R. Rickert.
Besides excelling on kickoff returns, Cribbs handles Cleveland's punt returns and is a jack-of-all-trades on offense. His biggest impact with that unit in 2009 came as a Wildcat quarterback. Cribbs averaged 6.9 yards on his 55 carries with one touchdown. He also caught 20 passes for 135 yards and another score.
Cribbs, though, is most dangerous on kickoffs. He led the NFL with a 27.5-yard average and became the second player in league history to record two 100-yard returns for scores in the same game (against Kansas City in December). Cribbs has scored eight times on kickoffs in five NFL seasons.