Anderson a Likely Brown in 2008

QB Derek Anderson

Cleveland Browns General Manager Phil Savage is saying all the things you would expect him to say, including that the team intends to keep starting QB Derek Anderson on the team in 2008. It's beginning to look like that will happen...

General manager Phil Savage is turning his attention to signing Derek Anderson to a long-term contract extension before free agency begins Feb. 29. If they do not reach an agreement, Anderson would receive the high tender of $2,562,000 as a restricted free agent.

It is very unlikely QB Derek Anderson would get the opportunity to sign an offer sheet if the Browns give him the high tender.

The high tender requires the team signing such a player to compensate the player's former team with first-round and third-round draft choices. Since 1994, 28 players have received the high tender. In 1998, Curtis Martin was an unrestricted free agent with the Patriots. The Jets signed him to a $36 million, six-year contract. The Patriots did not match, and the Jets had to fork over a first and a third.

At other times trades have been worked out, but the situation involving Martin is the only time a team paid the full compensation for a restricted free agent. Browns general manager Phil Savage has said he would prefer not to trade Anderson in a deal that would bring less than first-round and third-round picks.

"It could be anything from two years to seven years," Savage said. "We want to go into next season with both our quarterbacks plus Ken Dorsey intact."

Savage said Anderson would go into training camp as the starter after throwing 29 touchdowns in 2007.

COACHING CAROUSEL: The Browns are working on a contract extension for Romeo Crennel, but before they get to it, they would like to secure QB Derek Anderson and RB Jamal Lewis.

Crennel is under contract through 2009, so he is not a potential free agent.

"We have every intention of doing something for Romeo," general manager Phil Savage said. "I think Romeo has done a great job managing the team and also managing the lack of success we had for two years. I wish we could wipe away the records. I asked (the media) and the public to see what Romeo Crennel could do with a full deck. We had a full deck this year, and we went 10-6."

Savage said he does not expect any changes in the coaching staff unless one of the assistants is hired away by another coach.

FREE AGENT UPDATE
: The Browns' significant unrestricted free agents to be are CB Gary Baxter, RB Jamal Lewis, G Seth McKinney, NT Ethan Kelley, LB Chaun Thompson and OL Lennie Friedman.

Re-signing Lewis is a priority. The run defense was at its best when Kelley was healthy enough to play. McKinney and Friedman add depth on the offensive line. Thompson is valuable because he can play inside or outside. Baxter has not played since tearing both patellar tendons in October 2006.

QB Derek Anderson, CB Daven Holly, and DL Simon Fraser will be restricted free agents. Retaining Anderson is a priority unless a team is willing to give the Browns a first-round and third-round pick in compensation. Even then, the Browns have to be very sure Brady Quinn will be productive.

Holly is a reliable nickel back, but with rookie Brandon McDonald improving, Holly would be the dime back next year. Fraser adds depth on the defensive line.

FEELING A DRAFT: The Browns do not have a first-round pick in 2008 because they traded it to the Cowboys for the pick they used to take Quinn in the first round in 2007. Coincidentally, they drafted Quinn 22nd, and their first-round slot this year would have been 22nd.

When the Browns do get around to drafting, they will concentrate heavily on defensive line and linebacker. They will need a running back if they do not re-sign Lewis.

TEAM NEEDS

Pass rusher: Whether it's a defensive end or an outside linebacker, the Browns have to find a pass rusher to pair up with Kamerion Wimbley.

Nose tackle: Ethan Kelley and Shaun Smith played hard, but the Browns have to improve run defense to be included in the league's elite.

Wide receiver: This is a thin position after starters Braylon Edwards and Joe Jurevicius, and Jurevicius plans to retire after next season.

MEDICAL WATCH:
WR Joe Jurevicius had arthroscopic knee surgery, and LB Antwan Peek also underwent knee surgery. Both players are recovering.

TE Kellen Winslow Jr. might require surgery on his left shoulder and his right knee. He is putting off a decision.

DE Orpheus Roye has chronic knee problems but will not have surgery.

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