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Knee surgery stalls Josh Cribbs’ attempt to sign with Cardinals, agent says

By Nate Ulrich Published: March 19, 2013


Josh Cribbs had knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus following this past season, and it has delayed his ability to sign with a new team, said Cribbs’ agent, JR Rickert.

Cribbs, a special-teams ace who spent the past the past eight seasons with the Browns, visited the Arizona Cardinals and took a physical on Monday. He was expected to strike a deal, but the status of his knee obviously prevented it from happening.

“He did not fail his physical,” Rickert said today. “The team just wanted more time to let his knee heal from after-season surgery.”

Rickert said he expects the Cardinals to give Cribbs another physical once his knee has healed.

The Browns signed Cribbs, a former Kent State University quarterback, as an undrafted free agent in 2005. He became a special-teams force as both a return man and a coverage dynamo.

Cribbs, 29, ranked sixth among punt returners (12.0 average) and tied for fourth among kick returners (27. 4 average) this past season. He was named an alternate to the Pro Bowl and played in his third career all-star game in January.

Still, since the end of this past season, Cribbs knew he was headed for free agency and did not expect to be retained by the Browns’ new regime. It’s believed the two sides never engaged in serious talks about him returning.

Last week, Cribbs bid farewell to Browns fans by posting photographs and the following captions on Instagram: “I proved I would die for this. … That I would give 110% every game. … That the community was just as important as the field. … So if it’s my time to go, at least it’s in good hands.”

Cribbs also posted the following comment: “It’s been a blessing to be in Cleveland, wishing the best to the city and the team. If I could stay, I would.”

The 6-foot-1, 215-pound Cribbs and Leon Washington, who recently signed with the New England Patriots, are tied for the most kickoff returns for touchdowns -- eight -- in NFL history. Cribbs was named the kick returner on the NFL’s all-decade team for the 2000s.

Cribbs has compiled 12,169 career kick and punt return yards. He’s just the sixth player in NFL history to eclipse the 12,000-yard plateau. He has 10,015 career kickoff return yards, the most any player has tallied with the same team in NFL history and fifth-highest total overall.

In 2011, Cribbs had the most production in his career as a wide receiver when he tallied 41 catches for 518 yards and four touchdowns. But he had only seven catches for 63 yards this past season and often expressed his frustration about not being heavily involved in ex-Browns coach Pat Shurmur’s offense.

Whether he was on the field or speaking to reporters in the locker room, Cribbs exuded passion during his time with the Browns. It’s one of the main reasons he established himself as a fan favorite in Cleveland.

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