BEREA, Ohio -- Browns Pro Bowl all-purpose star Josh Cribbs cleaned out his locker in Berea on Thursday, said his goodbyes and feels like he's played his last down of football for the Cleveland Browns.
"I said goodbye to some people on the medical staff, some of the equipment guys and the coaches," Cribbs said during a phone interview. "I wished the coaches luck and told them I hoped they kept their jobs. But it absolutely felt like the last time I'd be setting foot inside the building. I feel like it's over for me in Cleveland."
Cribbs said a trade request will come next.
"It looks like now that [a trade request] could come before [the league year begins] March 4. If they're definitely set on that offer, then I'm out of here, no question."
Cribbs, who has three years remaining on his contract at just over $1 million a year, said that after the Browns' $1.4 million a year offer he felt "betrayed and stabbed in the back".
"I'm not just insulted by the number, but by the fact they consider me just a kick returner," Cribbs said. "I'm so much more than that."
Other players with similar roles make $3 million to $6 million a year.
Cribbs said the Browns told his agents the $1.4 million offer "will be the same in March and in the fall. They basically said, 'Take it or leave it.' Based on that, I'm not at all optimistic I'll be back."
He said some folks tell him he has no choice, that he's still under contract until 2012 and would have to play.
"I don't have to do anything," Cribbs said. "If I have to sit that whole time, I'll sit. There's no way I'll play another down for the Browns without the new contract. But they won't let me sit, because I have value. They'd be forced to trade me because it's a business."
Cribbs said the Browns told him to be a good soldier this season and that he'd be rewarded. He said he was also told by coach Eric Mangini "that I had to prove what I was to the Cleveland Browns this year and then they would pay me. I was repeatedly told it would get done by the end of the year."
Cribbs returned three kickoffs for touchdowns this season to become the NFL's all-time leader with eight; and he averaged a team-high 6.9 yards on his 55 runs, mostly out of the wildcat formation.
Over the past three seasons, he has more all-purpose yards than any other player in the NFL, with the top five stacking up this way: Cribbs with 6,345, San Diego's Darren Sproles 6,052, Minnesota's Adrian Peterson 5,741, Jacksonville's Maurice Jones-Drew 5,639, and Miami's Ted Ginn Jr. 5,486.
"I'm shocked they made me an offer like that after all I've done for this team," Cribbs said. "I laid it all on the line all season. I can't be told to wait again. I just don't see it happening now."
He said he was discouraged by remarks made by new team President Mike Holmgren, who said: "On occasion, our view of how much that should be and the agent's view of how much that should be differs. We have made an effort. We'll continue to make an effort. I want Josh here. We're trying and I hope how we do that is good enough."
Said Cribbs, "If you read between the lines, he's in no hurry to get anything done. I'm not planning on having any contact. It's completely on them now."
Cribbs' agent, J.R. Rickert, said a formal request for a trade will be made by March 4 if there's been no good-faith negotiating.
Cribbs said he was happy Mangini kept his job, and said he felt he contributed to that decision.
"I'd like to think that some of my play over those last four games helped those guys keep their jobs, including my two kickoff returns for touchdowns against Kansas City," he said. "I wonder how many jobs would've been lost if I hadn't laid it on the line for them every single week?"
As for retaining Mangini, Cribbs said: "That's a good decision by Mike Holmgren. He's the right man for the job. Guys have started to buy into his system. I feel like a good football mind would know that coach Mangini has this team going in the right direction. I can't see another coach coming in here and creating the impact that he's done so far. I feel like that's a job well done right there."