Browns considering Testaverde as backup insurance

Updated: June 19, 2006, 11:11 AM ET
By Len Pasquarelli | ESPN.com

The Cleveland Browns will give quarterback Ken Dorsey a chance in training camp to secure the No. 2 spot on the depth chart behind starter Charlie Frye, but head coach Romeo Crennel made it clear as his team completed a three-day minicamp over the weekend that the phone number for free agent veteran Vinny Testaverde is on his speed dial.

Vinny Testaverde
Testaverde

Crennel never mentioned Testaverde by name, but joked at one point that the player he had in mind as a potential insurance policy was "older than me" and noted that his familiarity with the offense system meant he "could come in on Friday and he'd be good to go on Sunday." It didn't take a rocket scientist to make the connection.

Testaverde and Crennel worked together when both were with the New York Jets. Crennel allowed that he has not spoken to Testaverde this offseason.

A 19-year veteran, Testaverde, 42, appeared in six games for the Jets in 2005, starting four times. He was signed after starting quarterback Chad Pennington was sidelined by a shoulder injury and he completed 60 of 106 passes for 777 yards, with one touchdown pass and six interceptions. For his career, Testaverde has completed 3,691 of 6,526 attempts for 45,252 yards, with 269 touchdown passes, 261 interceptions and a passer rating of 75.2 in 223 appearances and 208 starts.

Ken Dorsey
Dorsey

Charlie Frye
Frye

The Browns acquired Dorsey, a fourth-year veteran, from San Francisco as part of the May trade that sent quarterback Trent Dilfer to the 49ers.

General manager Phil Savage and Crennel said at the time that Dorsey would get first shot at the backup job -- and that they would give him 6-8 weeks to become comfortable with the offense. Having concluded their last organized team activities until the Browns reconvene for training camp late next month, that remains the plan. But if Cleveland officials determine early in camp that Dorsey is not the answer, it appears that Testaverde is their top option as a quarterback insurance policy.

Frye was the team's third-round choice in the 2005 draft, started five games as a rookie, and will go into training camp unchallenged for the starting job. Dorsey actually has more starts (10) than Frye, but none of the other four quarterbacks on the roster has taken a snap in an NFL game. Were Dorsey to falter, then the scenario might play out well for Testaverde, who has considered retirement, but left the door open to the possibility of returning to the NFL in an emergency-type situation.

Agent Mike Azzarelli said Testaverde has not yet filed his retirement papers with the league. Testaverde started 31 games for the Browns 1993-95. The first overall selection in the 1987 draft, he has played with five different NFL franchises.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. To check out Len's chat archive, click here Insider.