The agent for Browns DT Ahtyba Rubin told PFW Friday that he has exchanged contract proposals with the club but striking a multiyear deal with Cleveland before Rubin's contract expires at the end of the 2011 season could be challenging.
"I think it's really going to be difficult," said Alan Herman, who represents the 25-year-old Rubin, the only returning D-line starter for the Browns as Cleveland moves from a 3-4 to a 4-3 scheme.
The primary hold-up, Herman said, is the amount of guaranteed money being offered by Cleveland. The Browns, who recently signed OLT Joe Thomas to a long-term deal, are facing some budget constraints, the agent said. Herman, who represents Rubin with Jared Fox, said negotiations with the Browns have been "very amicable," and he praised Browns vice president of football administration Matt Thomas for his work in talks.
"It's not like we're miles and miles apart," Herman said, stressing that bridging the gap on guaranteed money offered in the deal would be key. "We're not."
When contacted Friday regarding Herman's take on the contract talks, Neal Gulkis, the Browns' vice president of media relations, told PFW that the club does not comment on contract negotiations.
Earlier Friday, Browns president Mike Holmgren told the Akron Beacon Journal that the club was trying to re-sign Rubin and RB Peyton Hillis to new contracts. The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer also reported of the club discussing contract extensions with Hillis, their leading rusher a season ago, and Rubin, who recorded 82 tackles.
"We're working very hard on that," Holmgren told the Beacon Journal. "When you're where we are, and we're young and we're kind of building the number of key free agents or core players that are deserving right now, we don't have as many as some teams. We've got a few, so that's what we're trying to do."
Herman told PFW he expected to speak to the Browns Friday afternoon and anticipated the team would to continue to work to sign Rubin even if a contract extension couldn't be agreed to by the start of the regular season.