Thursday, January 31, 2008

Ahead of the curve

Normally talk about free agents, the draft, and everything else, holds off for the most part until after the super bowl. Fortunately for those of us who don't care what Plaxico Burris thinks, not everyone is ignoring everything else.

PFT has a post about the Browns offer to Derek Anderson, and his reluctance to accept something shorter term than a 5-year deal.

Its a tricky situation, but before the hype (and probably numerous posts from me) starts in full force, I don't think its a bad situation or anything to be worried about. After all, he's a restricted free agent and he either plays for cheap for one year or we get draft picks. So the real key is how to turn make it the most advantageous.

Anderson is still a bit of an unknown commodity. He played great in one game in 06, and in most of the beginning of 07. But he also played average to bad in the rest of 06 and to close out 07. He has a strong arm, and with protection he can get the ball to (or in the general vicinity of) the hands of his playmakers. He also has been guilty of trying to force the ball, and he only appears to know one way to throw a ball: as a laserbeam. So some of the outstanding questions are:
>> Can he succeed without great protection?
>> Can he succeed without above-average receivers snagging his passes?
>> Will he ever learn to avoid bad throws, or will he still be making them when he's pushing 40 playing in the NFC championship game?

So there are questions. But the facts don't lie, with Anderson in there we won 10 games. I like how Peter King put it:
    You can't trade Derek Anderson. You work for years to develop a quarterback and have the kind of passing-game production the Browns had in 2007. You can't take the triggerman and deal him, figuring that Brady Quinn will step in and pick up right where Anderson left off. You have no idea if Quinn's going to be a solid NFL quarterback or not.

    What Savage has to do is keep Anderson around at least one more year, and then make a judgment. If Anderson plays great again next year, then you think of peddling Quinn if you can get good value for him. If not, you hang onto him, and you have an Aaron Rodgers situation on your hands. There are worse things -- like not having a quarterback at all.

The basic goal of Anderson's deal should be:
>> Something we can live with for the next few (3-5?) years if he confirms himself as an elite quarterback. If he does that, getting rid of Quinn (or letting him ride the bench. Don't forget, his contract is full of escalators that he may never hit) should not be a concern.
>> Something that he can live with if he proves to be an elite QB.
>> Something that doesn't kill our cap if his does flame out and we have to cut him.
>> Something gives us a good bargaining position a year or so down the road if we decide to go with Quinn and trade Anderson

I'm thinking the deal should probably include a decent payday for 2008, including a modest signing bonus. Then a big roster bonus due before the 2009 season that will force the Browns management to $h!^ or get off the pot. And then the remainder would be an above average salary that includes a number of incentives that could make it into a very rich contract.

It could be tricky, and Anderson may opt to go the restricted free agent route if he can't get his big guarantees this year. But both he and the Browns have to be realistic about not only his huge potential, but also the huge risks.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very well put. We need to see if Anderson is a flash in the pan. I don't think he would do well behind an average O line. Cleveland has built a Pro bowl O line. A lot of QB's could throw behind it.