With the Browns and Derek Anderson going down to the wire in their contract talks, let's dig into some questions which are on the minds of Browns fans here at the Orange and Brown Report:
Q: Many reports are swirling around which have Derek Anderson being on the verge of agreeing to a three-year contract with the Browns. Is this the direction the negotiations are headed and why would the Browns make such a commitment?
LA: Negotiations have progressed to the point where a deal could be completed prior to the free agent player signing period. As we noted here at the Orange and Brown Report in recent weeks and as late as Monday, the Cleveland organization has increased the guaranteed compensation in the offer and are awaiting the Anderson camp to either accept or reject the offer.
While the Browns could simply bog down the negotiations and tender the quarterback, the organization would like to get Anderson back under a deal which would provide stability at the position. Getting Anderson under contract also provides the organization an avenue to deal from a position of strength, if they decide to trade one of the quarterbacks in the future.
Q: Derek Anderson played well last season, so he should be able to secure a huge deal on the open market, rather than accepting an offer from the Browns which is a slap in the face. Why make this deal, now?
LA: If Anderson representatives honestly believe their client was going to be a hot commodity, they would not be looking at this deal seriously. The perception is Anderson has been evaluated by teams in need of a quarterback and the reality is these teams do not view him as a major player at this time. While Anderson played well at times during the 2007 season, questions remain and the Browns have placed an offer in front of him which guarantees him a significant raise and up-front compensation.
Q: If Anderson agrees to terms with the Browns, can the Browns afford to keep him and Brady Quinn for the long-term, or is this a means to see exactly what they have at the position?
LA: A potential deal would provide the team the opportunity to see if Anderson is more than a one-hit wonder, which this organization does not believe to be the case. Experience and growth in the system should enhance Anderson's game. He needs to show that he can reduce the type of mental errors he makes, some of which can be traced back to his college career.
At the salaries of Quinn and rumored in the Anderson deal, both players can exist together. The real question becomes, how long will either Quinn or Anderson be content playing second-fiddle? I don't see this lasting much more than a season.
Q: Are the Browns attempting to get Anderson under contract so they trade him?
LA: Actually signing Anderson to a proposed deal may seriously limit short-term trade possibilities. With guaranteed compensation or immediate compensation reaching the double-digit mark, the Browns may be much less likely to trade him at this time due to the salary cap implications it would have. As they get into year two and three of the deal, the team would have a lot less dead cap space to deal with, so the odds of a trade go up.
Q: Why sign Anderson now with the thought of trading him, when the team can just tender him and receive draft selection compensation?
LA: Good question. Why sign Anderson if there's an intent not to keep him on the team in the 2008 season? I believe the organization is setting up the scenario where Anderson is going to be with the Browns, but have the ability to move him if a team comes calling at a later time. Additionally, the Browns can and will tender Anderson if the deal is not completed before the free agency period starts. At that point, Anderson may leave significant money on the table, and he may never have the opportunity to recoup in a deal with the team.
LA: With reality setting in for the Anderson camp, and the fair offer we are hearing the Browns have presented, I see Anderson taking the guaranteed deal and signing prior to free agency. He and his reps know that things can change quickly in the coming days. If he does not sign, the Browns are going full speed ahead in free agency come Friday and the money on the table for the quarterback could be reduced rather quickly.
Q: Brady Quinn was drafted to be the leader of this team. Anderson has one good season, why should the Browns simply give Anderson such a large deal and take away from the chances to improve deficient areas on the roster?
LA: The Browns are not a 10-6 team last season without Derek Anderson and the organization does believe Anderson has the ability to improve upon his game of last season. While the team has needs in other areas, continuity remains a critical factor for this organization.