Thursday, February 28, 2008

Browns Tender Anderson: Pros and Cons

The Browns put a 3 year, $20M offer ($10M guaranteed) on the table for quarterback Derek Anderson. At this point, Anderson and his agents have decided not to accept. The result of this is the Browns tendering Anderson the highest possible offer ($2.562M) for a one year deal since he was a restricted free agent and could have hit the open market if they had not tendered him an offer by 12:01 AM on Leap Day, February 29.

What this means is if another team signs Anderson, it would have to give the Browns a first and a third round draft pick as compensation due to him receiving the highest tender offer. The Browns would also have the right to match the offer instead of taking the draft picks. The size of the contract Anderson is/may be offered would determine whether the Browns would do the former or the latter. Any way the situation ends up, there are pros and cons for both parties.

The pros for Anderson if he receives an offer from another team are money and job security. Obviously, if he gets an offer from another team he's getting a bigger paycheck whether the Browns match the offer or not. If he leaves for another team for the kind of money he is looking for he is going to be the unquestioned starter and not have to worry about a first round draft choice breathing down his neck. The cons if he accepts the Browns 3 year offer or plays out 2008 on the one year tender is that it will be for less money and he will have Brady Quinn nipping at his heals again. Plus he bails on the offensive personnel and scheme that suits him perfectly.

The pros for Anderson if he signs the 3 year extension with the Browns are stability, the Browns personnel and the offensive scheme. He remains in a place and organization that he is familiar and comfortable with. He has established relationships, timing, camaraderie, etc. with the offense in Cleveland. He has the receivers in Edwards, Winslow and Jurevicius that can make the tough catches on his strong, yet sometimes inaccurate, throws. He has a punishing running back in Jamal Lewis that will open up plays down field which are a staple of his game. He is in an offense that accentuates his strengths (strong arm, quick release, big plays) and minimizes the impact of his weaknesses (accuracy, decision making, forcing throws into coverage) by utilizing an powerful offensive line and running back. This system let him mold his talents into a spot as an alternate for the Pro Bowl. If he leaves, he loses everything he has established with the Browns players and might not end up with comparable personnel or a scheme that takes advantages of the strengths of his game.

The pro for Anderson if he plays out 2008 on the tender offer is that he basically gets one year to showcase whether or not he is a franchise quarterback in the NFL, be it for the Browns or another team. But the con to that is that if he follows the trends that his performance followed after the second half of the season then he could end up losing more money than he could have made by resigning.

The pros for the Browns if Anderson receives an offer from another team is that that they can evaluate the length and cap impact of the contract and determine whether to match it or take the two draft choices that are sorely needed to address their porous defense. The cons are that they have a proven commodity in Anderson and draft choices always have more risk involved. Additionally, Anderson fits perfectly in their system with his strong arm and quick release. He has shown that he can succeed in the system that produced record breaking seasons from Edwards, Winslow, Lewis and himself. They also will have a quarterback controversy surrounding the team for another year and risk the chance that Brady Quinn may ask for a trade. Also, depending on the terms of the offer the Browns may incur a larger salary cap hit than they would like.

The pros for the Browns if Anderson accepts the three year offer is that they get a young, proven QB under contract for 3 years with a deal that doesn't severely tie their hands. It gives him more time to prove 2007 was no fluke and gives Quinn another year to study on the job so he's ready if/when he is needed. If Anderson struggles in 2008, Quinn can be elevated to starter and Anderson would be relegated to the back-up role. The terms of both players' contracts would not hindrance to this situation. The cons to this scenario are that Anderson, if demoted, could demand a trade or be a distraction for the team. Quinn, too, could also ask to be relocated if Anderson firmly establishes himself as the Browns franchise quarterback.

If Anderson plays out 2008 on the tender then the Browns get another year to evaluate him and could resign him after the season to a longer, more lucrative deal if they decide he is one who will lead the Browns for the next decade. They would then need to make a decision on what to do with Quinn. If Anderson falters in 2008, they can simply cut ties with him by not resigning him or they could bring him back as a back-up for less money. But they also run the risk of losing him to another team as he will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of 2008. If that happens and Brady Quinn has not received extensive playing time there is no way of knowing what Quinn brings to the table for 2009.

The possibilities are endless but I have faith that Phil Savage has a specific plan for each situation. Whether it's matching another teams offer, taking the draft picks, getting Anderson to sign the Browns offer or having him play out 2008 on the tender, I believe Phil has analyzed each situation and know the parameters that will best benefit the Browns in 2008 and beyond. After the progress that was made in 2007 he deserves the fan base's confidence in his actions. No matter how it turns out, it's just good to be taking about meaningful Browns scenarios in late February for the first time in a long time.



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