While the Browns continue to negotiate a three-year contract with Pro Bowl quarterback Derek Anderson, general manager Phil Savage protected the team to a certain degree by giving the quarterback the first- and third-round tender offer at $2.562 million.
As of Thursday evening, Anderson, getting feelers from teams in need of quarterbacks, was considering rolling the dice and becoming a restricted free agent to see if there were teams willing to sign him to an offer sheet once free agency starts Friday. Savage, talking to the football media Thursday, said another team could make it difficult for the Browns to match an offer if they want him as a starter, although the Browns' plan is to retain Anderson and Brady Quinn as their
"If he's willing to take the walk out there, there's got to be
some indication there's something at the end of the rainbow,"
The Browns have offered Anderson a three-year deal for about $20 million. Like Matt Schaub a year ago, Anderson would be a popular restricted free agent. The Browns would have seven days to match any offer Anderson signs. Like the Falcons, who traded Schaub to Houston last winter, the Browns could work out a trade different from the first- and third-round choices required if Anderson leaves on an offer sheet.
Savage said that should Anderson sign with another team, the Browns
wouldn't be able to match the offer. Instead, they'd take the
first- and third-round pick draft picks they'd receive as
compensation and turn to fan favorite Quinn as the starting
"If Derek wants to be a Brown and really wants to stay here in
Cleveland and play with the players that are on our team, then he
can do that rather easily," Savage said. "We can look in the
mirror and know we put a strong offer out there.
"But he's earned the right to get to this point because of his
play last year. We're in a good situation either way."
Savage said the team's position isn't an ultimatum. But with
free agency around the corner, the team has a budget with
Anderson's three-year deal and another without it.
A message seeking comment was left with Anderson's agent, Mark
Cleveland is desperate for help on the defensive line and at
linebacker, and Savage expects to target those positions
immediately in free agency.
The 24-year-old Anderson threw 29 touchdown passes and 19
interceptions last season and went 10-5 after taking over as the
starter in Week 2. He made the Pro Bowl as an alternate.
Quinn, from Notre Dame, was limited to just eight passes as a
rookie after the Browns traded their first-round draft pick in 2008
to take him with the No. 22 pick last April. He would remain the
backup if Anderson agrees to the three-year deal.
"There's a comfort level that Brady can walk in, administrate
the offense and do even more than that," Savage said. "He does
have some mobility, is physically strong and has a good arm. The
mental part is going to end up being his greatest strength."
If Anderson leaves, the Browns would be in the market for an
experienced backup, Savage said.
Restricted free agent tenders have to be submitted to players by 4 p.m. ET or the player becomes a free agent. Thus, for now, Anderson remains the Browns' starter because of the submission of the tender offer.
Information from ESPN.com's John Clayton and The Associated Press was used in this report.