For his efforts in helping drag the Browns out of the NFL's
basement, Crennel is on the verge of being rewarded with a contract
extension by the club. Cleveland went 10-6 and barely missed making
the AFC playoffs in his third season as coach.
"We have every intention of doing something for Romeo," Browns
general manager Phil Savage said Wednesday.
In his first public comments since Cleveland's turnaround ended
one win shy of the postseason, Savage also said he's hoping to
re-sign Anderson, who went from inexperienced backup to Pro Bowl
alternate in just months.
Savage feels the 24-year-old restricted free agent did enough in
his first season as a starter to deserve a long-term contract.
"I think the deserving thing is to say he's the starter going
into next year," Savage said. "He's done nothing to lose the
Savage also believes Anderson and Brady Quinn can co-exist on
Cleveland's roster and that having two quality QBS gives the Browns
a distinct advantage over other teams.
"We want to go into next season with both our quarterbacks
intact," Savage said. "You would hate for an injury at that
position, if one of them is not here, to derail everything else
we've put in place.
"We want to make sure we stay strong at that position -- for at
least one more year."
The Browns plan to intensify negotiations with Crennel's agent,
Joe Linta, about an extension "within the next few days, if not
the next few weeks," Savage said. He didn't specify the length of
Crennel signed a five-year deal with the Browns in 2005. He
began this past season with his future in doubt and a 10-22 record
to show for two forgettable seasons. But after dropping their 2007
opener 34-7 to Pittsburgh, the Browns bounced back -- and behind an
explosive offense were still in the postseason mix until the
season's final game.
The 60-year-old Crennel, who won five Super Bowl rings as an
assistant, is 20-28 in his first stint as an NFL head coach.
Earlier this week, the Browns gave offensive coordinator Rob
Chudzinski a two-year extension to prevent him from possibly
leaving to become Baltimore's coach.
Savage said there was a rush to get things done with Chudzinski,
who had an interview scheduled with the Ravens, but that the club
intended to address Crennel's future at the appropriate time.
Savage feels it's unfair to judge Crennel on his first two
"Romeo's done a great job managing the team and managing the
lack of success we had for two years," Savage said. "I wish we
could wipe away records. I've said, 'Let's see what Romeo could do
with a full deck.' We had a full deck and we went 10-6.
"That's more of the record that I'm focused on in terms of
judging his abilities as a football coach. I think he's got the
respect of the locker room, and as long as that's there, and as
long as we're winning, I think Romeo's in good standing with the
Anderson, too, has his own fan club within Cleveland's
hierarchy. While Quinn may eventually become the Browns' No. 1
quarterback, he has only been on the field for 10 plays to
"He deserves to go into the batter's box and swing for the
fences next year," Savage said of Anderson. "That's what our
expectation is going to be, that he's a home run hitter and we're
going to hope that he hits some home runs for us."
The Browns have several options with Anderson, who threw 29
touchdown passes this season, but whose production tailed off in
the final weeks. If the club is unable to sign him to a long-term
deal, the Browns will tender him a one-year contract for $2.562
million that will give them a first- and third-round draft pick if
another team tries to sign Anderson in free agency.
Savage doesn't want things to get to that point. He's had
preliminary talks with Anderson's agents.
"I feel like ultimately, Derek recognizes and his people
recognize what people we have here: a pretty good offensive line,
good skill players around him, a good coordinator, a head coach
that he likes and there's great potential here," Savage said.
"It's a nice cockpit to be in and as a quarterback Derek
recognizes that and feels that he's the guy that can pilot it."
Savage's other upcoming priority is to re-sign running back
Jamal Lewis, who rushed for 1,304 yards in his first season with
Cleveland. Lewis has expressed a desire to stay with Cleveland,
which wasn't sure what they were getting when they signed him to a
one-year, incentive-laden contract in March.
"Jamal has indicated that he really liked it here," Savage
said. "I think he was pleasantly surprised with what we had here.
If there's a willingness on both parties to get this done, then I
think it will happen."