It seems the first of what is likely to be many volleys has been fired in the contract negotiations between the Cleveland Browns and Derek Anderson's representatives.
While the two sides have yet to enter into any "meaningful or specific contract talks" as of this morning, a source close to the soon-to-be free-agent quarterback tells The OBR what it's likely to take to get him signed before he hits the open market.
According to the source, Anderson will be looking for a deal somewhere in between what Matt Schaub received from the Texans and what Tony Romo received from the Cowboys.
Last March, Schaub signed a six-year, $48 million deal that included $7 million in guaranteed money and a $10 million option bonus payable in 2010. Then, in late October, Romo inked a six-year, $67.5 million contract that included a whopping $31 million in guarantees.
Needless to say, the DA camp would like any long-term deal with the Browns to be skewed toward the Romo end of the spectrum; also needless to say, the Browns would like it more toward what Schaub received.
The source very firmly stated that Anderson's preference is to remain with the Browns, but it's going to take some give-and-take on both sides.
"If everything is equal, sure, (Anderson) would want to remain in Cleveland," the source said.
"He loves the offense, the coaching staff, everything about the organization. But, he also wants to be compensated accordingly, as others have before him. He's done more than Schaub did before he signed his deal, and look at Romo's stats and (Anderson) is right there."
At the time he signed his deal, Romo had started 17 games; DA has 19 starts under his belt. As far as stats go, Romo had completed 64 percent of his passes, with 29 touchdowns 22 interceptions at the time of his extension; right now, Anderson is completing 57% of his passes, with 34 touchdowns and 27 interceptions.
"He won't necessarily be looking for the (guaranteed) money that Romo got, but I would think he'd be worth more (guaranteed) money than Schaub," the source said.
At the time of his signing the long-term agreement with Houston, Schaub had started only two games in his three seasons in the league.
While there is still nearly a month and a half to go until Anderson would hit the open market, this type of gamesmanship—which will be played by both sides both publicly and privately—will likely be a hot topic of conversation until a contract—or RFA tender—is signed.
---I've had a couple of people e-mail me about a rumor floating around that former Brady Quinn teammate Jeff Smardzija will exercise the buyout clause in his baseball contract and take a shot at the NFL, with his intended destination being a reunion with Quinn in Cleveland. According to two people with knowledge of the situation, those rumors are "completely false" and "have no basis in truth".
---The Ravens had wanted to interview offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski late last week but, after catching wind of the Browns being in talks with Chudzinski on a contract extension, they decided to move the interview up a couple of days to last Monday. Chudzinski, however, opted not to interview for the head-coaching position in Baltimore and signed a two-year extension with the Browns instead.
---The Browns are one of up to ten teams who "may"—whatever that means—have an interest in Joe Smith, a source close to the Canadian Football League running back told The OBR. Last season, Smith rushed for 1,510 yards and scored 18 touchdowns for the B.C. Lions.
---You can just about forget the notion of Terrelle Suggs in a Cleveland Browns uniform next season as a league source tells The OBR that Suggs and the Ravens are currently hammering out the details of a long-term contract. Even if the talks hit a snag—the source labels that "highly unlikely"—the Ravens will, in all likelihood, slap the franchise tag on Suggs before he can hit the open market.
And don't be fooled by recent reports that Suggs wants to return to the desert—he went to high school in Arizona and is an Arizona State alum—and play for the Cardinals. While he may indeed want to return to his old stomping grounds, he will likely do what 99.9% of free agents do. He'll follow the money.
Don't believe me? Does the phrase "Nate Clements, Shaker Heights native and Ohio State University alum, signed a record-breaking contract with the 49ers earlier today" mean anything to you?
--- The three-year contract recently signed by third quarterback Ken Dorsey contains base salaries of $605,000 (2008), $620,000 (2009), and $760,000 (2010). While we have not yet been able to get an exact number on the signing bonus, we have been told that "it's under $1 million".