John Taylor's "Rumor Has It..."

The start of the free agent signing period is sneaking up and little news ekes out of Berea. Unless, of course, you're John Taylor and your ears are burning with the latest scoop on the quarterback situation, Sean Jones, contract restructurings, and smokescreens already puffing over Cleveland...

--While there have been no meaninguful discussions with potential suitors for Derek Anderson -- or Brady Quinn for that matter -- it's safe to say Anderson's name has come up in conversations. Anderson, obviously, is on the radar of several teams who will be looking for a quarterback this offseason, so expect more serious talks to take place in the month leading up to the NFL draft.

Let me repeat and reiterate that again, and say that the following is paraphrased based on conversations with two Browns sources within the last 24 hours: there have been no meaningful discussions with potential suitors for Derek Anderson. Not with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, not with the New York Jets, not with the Detroit Lions. Not with anyone. Yet.

--Yes, it's true that the Cleveland Browns have had little to no contact with their own free agents thus far, but that will certainly change in the coming days -- if it hasn't already. No less than five agents of current Browns -- players who are scheduled to hit the open market at the end of the month -- will meet with various members of the Browns front office in the next week or so during the meat market better known as the Indianapolis Scouting Combine.

--We're hearing that the Browns have approached the agent for Kevin Shaffer about "restructuring" the right tackle's contract. It's unclear at this time if Shaffer could be facing a release if he's not amenable to the rumored tweaking of the remainder of his seven-year deal. Numerous messages left for Shaffer's agent, Alan Herman, throughout this past week have not been returned.  Shaffer is scheduled to carry a cap number of just over $6 million in 2009, with a base salary of $2.65 million.

--The Browns "very strongly considered" slapping the franchise tag on safety Sean Jones, but in the end felt comfortable with the direction the talks would take when Jones hits the open market -- if he hits the open market. The Browns are expected to sit down with Jones' representation at some point this week at the combine.

--Speaking of Jones' representation, the safety has indeed made a change in agents recently. Jones has ditched his long-time agent, Bill Johnson, in favor of Brian Mackler of Sportstars. Mackler, incidentally, also represents linebacker D'Qwell Jackson, who will likely have his current contract addressed once the 2009 draft comes to an end.  This is the final year of the LB's contract.

--Here's what one unnamed front office executive had to say about a recent published report in which Brady Quinn stated that he has not been told who will be the starting quarterback: "No (spit) he hasn't been told. Why would anyone be told right now? (Naming a starter now) weakens any leverage the Browns have.  It would make no sense (for the Browns) to come out and say 'this guy is our starter' when they're trying to trade the other one."

--It's safe to say that, based on numerous conversations, most league-wide observers fully expect Quinn to be the starter in 2009. While the Browns will not offer a hint or clue one way or the other -- either publicly or privately -- "all the tea leaves are reading that way" an AFC front office executive said recently.  Of course, what people around the league think about what may or may not happen at the position means little, but it's a good barometer as to what could happen at quarterback for the Browns.

--That being said, I'm not so sure at this point in time what's going to transpire at QB.  It will not shock me either way.  As one Browns source noted, "no options have been taken off the table," and that's seemingly the way the situation needs to be looked at right now.


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