Anderson gets three-year deal with $24 million from Browns

Updated: February 29, 2008, 11:09 PM ET
Associated Press

Derek Anderson ran a reverse on the Cleveland Browns.

Derek Anderson

Anderson

Only a few hours after the quarterback hit the free-agent market, Anderson agreed to terms on a three-year contract with the Browns, who were prepared to move on without the Pro Bowl alternate.

The deal is reportedly worth $24 million and includes over $13 million in guaranteed money.

Anderson, 24, officially became a restricted free agent at 12:01 a.m. Friday. But by 5 a.m. his agents had worked out a deal with general manager Phil Savage for him to stay in Cleveland. The sides had been working on a three-year deal and had been negotiating for weeks.

"This is where I want to be," Anderson said. "I told my agent, `Let's do the right things to get that taken care of.' In my heart, I knew I was going to get back."

If Anderson had signed with another team, Cleveland would have received first- and third-round draft picks as compensation. The Browns also would have turned their high-powered offense under second-year coordinator Rob Chudzinski over to Brady Quinn, their QB in waiting.

"Honestly, I wasn't interested in late ones and late threes," Savage said. "I'm interested in keeping the player, keeping our offense in tact with Chad at the controls and bringing our playmakers back, having them at full strength, keeping the offensive line in place and seeing how far this particular group of players can go."

In addition to getting a deal done with Anderson on the opening day of free agency, the Browns acquired defensive tackle Corey Williams from Green Bay for a second-round draft pick in April.

The Browns then signed Williams to a six-year deal. Financial terms were not immediately available.

Williams, 6-foot-4, 313-pounds, tied a career high with seven sacks last season. He was designated as the Green Bay Packers' franchise player last week.

The Browns desperately need some defensive linemen as Robaire Smith and Shaun Smith are the only ones under contract.

"It's worth a second-round pick for us to get a defensive lineman who played in the league, had success in the league," Savage said. "I think he'll fit in well with our team and give us some legitimacy on the defensive front."

Williams played tackle in Green Bay's 4-3 alignment, but will play end in the Browns' 3-4 scheme.

"I think he'll be a really valuable addition to us, not only because of his rush ability on the inside but also his ability to play the run," Savage said.

On Thursday, Savage said if Anderson had gotten another offer, the Browns probably wouldn't have been able to keep him. That would have made Quinn, the former Notre Dame star who only threw eight passes as a rookie, the starter.

Now, the Browns have two quality quarterbacks under 25, and just because they've signed Anderson, that doesn't mean they won't consider trading him. Several teams are shopping for a quarterback, and will likely inquire about Anderson.

"We're going to have both quarterbacks as long as we can keep them. Then we're going to pick one of them," Savage said. "The Cleveland Browns are going to be quarterbacked by one or the other, either D.A. or Brady Quinn, for a long time."

Any thought that the Browns would trade Anderson is nonsense, Savage said.

"We are not trading Derek Anderson in 2008, thank you very much," Savage said, leaning into the microphone for effect. "We're going through 2008 with both quarterbacks. Inside the building, people are genuinely excited that we have both QBs. I don't worry about what happens outside."

Anderson threw 29 TD passes last season and led the Browns to 10 wins. He'll enter training camp as the prohibitive favorite to win the starter's job, but Anderson will be pushed hard by Quinn, a fan favorite whom the Browns feel can become a star.

Cleveland gave up a first-round pick in this year's draft to select Quinn.

Despite having a much stronger arm and hair-trigger release, Anderson failed to beat out Charlie Frye in training camp last summer. However, after Frye played poorly in a 34-7 loss to Pittsburgh in the season opener, the Browns traded him two days later to Seattle and elevated Anderson to their starter.

The former sixth-round pick of Baltimore in 2005 threw five TDs in his first start against Cincinnati and had the Browns in the playoff hunt until December. But Anderson had his worst game the second time he faced the Bengals, throwing four interceptions in a loss that cost Cleveland a postseason spot.

Anderson's 29 TDs were one shy of Brian Sipe's club record set in 1980.

The Browns also hosted New England wide receiver Donte Stallworth and Tennessee defensive end Travis LaBoy, Savage said.

Anderson's 29 TDs were one shy of Brian Sipe's club record set in 1980.


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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