On Friday at the NFL Scouting Combine, Browns general manager Phil Savage sounded pessimistic and disappointed about the prospects of getting quarterback Derek Anderson signed before the start of free agency. But there are reasons to believe not all is lost.
Over the weekend one league source called Anderson a ''one-year wonder'' and an Internet report Monday night on Scout.com said Anderson's agent heard more of the same during his time in Indianapolis.
Even the ''one year'' estimate may be generous, considering Anderson threw nine touchdowns and 10 interceptions in the last seven games. Needing only to beat Cincinnati Dec. 23 to clinch a playoff berth, Anderson tied his career-high with four interceptions. He still finished with a 10-5 record as a starter and threw 29 touchdown passes, one shy of Brian Sipe's team mark.
But the reported chilly reception in Indianapolis and Anderson's poor performance in the Pro Bowl could convince agent Mark Humenik of Athletes First to come around to the Browns' way of thinking on a three-year deal.
Cleveland may have to sweeten the pot, but might be willing considering its relatively low payroll for its top two quarterbacks in 2007. Anderson made the league-minimum of $435,000 last season, while rookie Brady Quinn earns $2 million as a backup. Even with Quinn due a reported $4.3 million roster bonus in March, the Browns may look at the big picture, realize those are bargain prices and up their offer to make sure they get another year to evaluate Anderson.
The Scout.com report may be only the beginning of the rampant speculation and wild rumors that surround free agency. But even if there has been no breakthrough in talks, there may have been an awakening on the Anderson side based on conversations in Indianapolis.
Anderson becomes a restricted free agent at 12:01 Friday. In a worse-case scenario, Cleveland
will offer him the highest tender of $2.562 million by 4 p.m. Thursday. But it may not come to that.