BEREA — Derek Anderson is scheduled to become a restricted free agent Feb. 29, and first-round draft pick Brady Quinn is waiting in the wings. While that combination might not be enough to start a full-fledged quarterback controversy, it’s more than enough to create an air of uncertainty.
Just not in the mind of Browns receiver Joe Jurevicius.
“I know Cleveland’s been looking for a good quarterback for a while now and Derek’s proved that he’s a legitimate quarterback,” Jurevicius, a captain, said Monday. “I don’t believe there’s a quarterback controversy. I just think Derek Anderson’s our man. He deserves to be here, he deserves everything he has coming to him.”
Coach Romeo Crennel received a variety of questions on the subject of quarterback throughout a half-hour season-ending news conference and insisted that Anderson enters the offseason as the clear No. 1. He became agitated near the end when asked if he needed to give Anderson a vote of confidence.
“The guy just won 10 games for us. Does he need a vote of confidence?” Crennel said. “You guys are always the ones who bring up this quarterback thing. Just because you’re a draft pick doesn’t guarantee you success in the NFL. You have to go play and you have to prove it.
“And you have to have an opportunity to prove it. I agree there, but Anderson has done a good job with his opportunity.”
Anderson was one of the biggest reasons for the turnaround from 4-12 to 10-6. He came off the bench in the opener, then went 10-5 as a starter, totaling 3,787 yards, 29 touchdowns, 19 interceptions and an 82.5 rating.
The Browns didn’t anticipate such production — only Brian Sipe and Bernie Kosar have thrown for more yards in team history — or they wouldn’t have traded their first-round pick in 2008 to draft Quinn with the 22nd pick in 2007. Now they have two young quarterbacks (Anderson is 24, Quinn 23) with promise.
“The guy who’s playing is going to be happy. The guy who’s not playing is not going to be happy,” Crennel said. “But it’s a good problem to have.
“I’d much rather have too many good players than not enough. We’ve had not enough good players around here for a while and we saw the results of that.”
Anderson wore a blue Indians cap as he talked to a throng of reporters before packing up and heading to Oregon.
“Hopefully I’ll be back, but I obviously don’t control that,” he said. “I love these guys in this locker room. It took me awhile to grow and really like it here. I like the city and part of me doesn’t want to move.”
Anderson said he could continue to co-exist with Quinn.
“I don’t see why not,” he said. “We’re functional. He gives me a hard time, I give him a hard time. We both get annoyed with each other. The relationship is good.”
Anderson could command significant interest in free agency if he doesn’t reach a long-term deal with the Browns before Feb. 29. The Browns could also use the franchise tag, which would pay him around $10.6 million for one season while giving the Browns two first-round picks if another team offered Anderson a contract and the Browns chose not to match. It’s highly unlikely a team would give up two first-round picks.
General manager Phil Savage has said the Browns are likely to offer Anderson at least the high tender, which would pay him $2.562 in 2008. The Browns would then receive first- and third-round picks if he signed with another team and Cleveland didn’t match.
A team could also make the Browns a trade offer, then work out its own deal with Anderson.
“Sometimes people can make you an offer and you can say, ‘No, I think I’m going to stick with what I’ve got,’” Crennel said. “Sometimes they make you an offer and you say, ‘Oooh!’ So we’ll see how it goes.
“I’ll listen to offers, but I don’t have to do anything. What we’re going to do is what we think is best to improve the team. There’s a value on every player.”
Tight end Kellen Winslow has been in Anderson’s corner all year, but foresees a switch to Quinn.
“You draft a guy, especially in the first round, he’s playing,” Winslow said. “Derek’s a great guy, but that’s just the way this business works.”
Quinn was 3-for-8 for 45 yards in his only action of the year Sunday. He has been a good teammate this year but isn’t shy about his desire to play.
“Brady worked every week to try to be ready so that if he had to go, he could go,” Crennel said. “Brady will do a good job with his opportunity when he gets it. When that’s going to come, I don’t know.”
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