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Clock Ticking Quickly on Derek Anderson

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Could Anderson be headed to Chicago? or Miami? or Carolina? The clock is ticking before the Browns withdraw their offer.
Maybe the Browns won't have Derek Anderson back after all. As the hours go by without having Anderson under contract, I'm starting to believe that maybe there is a team out there that is willing to give up a 1st and 3rd round draft pick for him. Almost the entire offseason, how many times have you heard me report on a story regarding Anderson's contract negotiations? Probably zero (maybe there was an obscure mention or two). If I went back, I could probably count 20 different reports on 20 different dates from 20 different sources, with each of them claiming that Anderson was "close to agreeing to a new deal". I spared myself the repetitiveness for long enough though, because if Anderson doesn't agree to a deal before midnight tonight, he'll become a restricted free agent. He will not become an unrestricted free agent because the Browns gave him a $2.56 million tender earlier today.

Here's what we know right now:

  • Current Offer: The offer that has been sitting on the table for Anderson is a three-year deal worth $20 million, with $10 million guaranteed. That is a good amount of money that would be guaranteed to Anderson, and with that type of investment, it'd be a given that Anderson would be the team's starting quarterback this season.
  • Clock Strikes Midnight: If Anderson hasn't signed by midnight Thursday, he'll be a RFA at 12:01 am Friday. That means that teams can offer Anderson any type of contract within league guidelines. The offer would likely have to be similar to the ones that Tony Romo and Marc Bulger received: a six-year deal worth $68 million, with $20 million guaranteed.
  • Following the Offer: If a team makes an official offer to Anderson, the Browns will have several days to match the offer. If the Browns don't match the offer, Anderson will be gone and Brady Quinn will be our new starting quarterback. As compensation for Cleveland losing Anderson, the team who signed him would owe the Browns a first- and third-round draft pick.

The Browns' offer to Anderson wasn't a bad one, so you have to wonder if he hasn't signed yet because another team has discreetly shown interest in him. After the season was over, it seemed kind of ridiculous that a team would give up so much for a quarterback with only one proven year under his belt. However, the quarterback situation was nearly at an all-time low for many teams this past season, and things aren't looking brighter on the horizon. The current draft class doesn't look as promising as those from the past few years in terms of quarterbacks.

Right now, here are the teams that'd have the strongest interest in Anderson, in my opinion:

  • Miami Dolphins: Trent Green is gone. Cleo Lemon is gone. Is John Beck their future quarterback? I don't think so. The issue is that the Dolphins don't hold just any ordinary first- and third-round pick...they have the first selection in each round. A possible scenario could see the Dallas Cowboys trading both of their picks to the Dolphins so they can get Darren McFadden. Then, the Dolphins would be giving up something more "understandable" for DA.
  • Carolina Panthers: They've already dumped David Carr, and although I like Jake Delhomme, the Panthers may be ready to head in another direction finally. However, I don't know if Anderson would be a good fit for them. Anderson utilized big, physical receivers in Braylon Edwards, Joe Jurevicius, and Kellen Winslow. Steve Smith is tough, but I think Anderson struggles throwing to the quick receivers that are smaller in size. Carolina holds the 13th pick in the first round.
  • Chicago Bears: No one can convince me that Kyle Orton and Rex Grossman are worth another shot in Chi-Town. Plus, the team hasn't committed too much money to either of them. However, the Bears lost their top two receivers from last season already (Bernard Berrian and Muhsin Muhammad, and that tandem wasn't the greatest to begin with. It's hard to believe Anderson could work with no-name receivers. The Bears hold the 14th pick in the first round.
  • Detroit Lions: Jon Kitna deserves his props, but Anderson would seem like a great fit for Detroit's talented receivers. Detroit's receiver situation seems quite comparable to that of the Browns too. The Lions hold the 15th pick in the first round.

Other teams that could be interested include the Minnesota Vikings, New York Jets, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. However, I don't think any of those teams have the receivers or system necessary for Anderson to succeed (he could probably work in Minnesota solely due to Arian Peterson).

These comments from general manager Phil Savage during a press conference today may also indicate that Anderson is about to slip away:

The team is fully prepared to move forward with Brady Quinn as its starting quarterback, Savage said. "It's a pretty good cockpit for a quarterback to be in," Savage said. "Derek capitalized on that last season. We think Brady will too. He's got all the ingredients to be successful. The Browns are in pretty good shape."

Savage said he's also becoming excited about the possibility of the Browns recouping the 2008 No. 1 pick they traded to Dallas last season to move up to the first round to select Quinn.

"We've talked about different scenarios," he said. "We could end up with more money to sign free agents and some extra picks. It's a win-win situation."
-Cleveland Plain Dealer

Also, if Anderson simply decides to "test" the market, the Browns' original three-year offer might be off the table. After all -- we can't not sign potential blockbuster free agents because we may have to dedicate that money to Anderson. It's now or never for Anderson, and right now, it's leaning towards never.