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Cleveland Browns

Will Lewis, Anderson be back?

By Marla Ridenour Published: January 2, 2008

While the Browns could use at least two linebackers and two defensive linemen in the draft and free agency, the focus of the off-season will be the futures of quarterback Derek Anderson and running back Jamal Lewis.

Lewis, the ex-Raven, played on a one-year contract that paid him $5 million with incentives and surely will want more in his next deal. Anderson will become a restricted free agent unless the Browns sign him to a long-term contract before the free agency period begins Feb. 29. Even in that instance, he could still be traded.

Anderson went 10-5 as a starter, threw 29 TD passes (one short of Brian Sipe's team record) and was voted a Pro Bowl alternate. But on Monday, Anderson answered with a joke when he was asked if he'd like to come back for the long term.

''You want me back?'' he said.

Fans are infatuated with rookie Brady Quinn, even through he played just one series this season and attempted eight passes.

Anderson said he's not surprised Browns backers have been talking about whether he should stay in 2008 for months.

''Everybody's going to try and twist it one way or another,'' he said. ''Whatever it is, hopefully I'm back here. I enjoy the guys in this locker room.''

Anderson believes he and Quinn, two young players with bright futures, can coexist. That scenario doesn't seem likely past next season.

''I don't see why not,'' he said. ''Other teams have done it. I don't know how it happens or the whole process of it, I've never been through it. I hope so.''

Whatever happens, Anderson will soon become a millionaire. He admitted he was anxious about where he'll end up.

''Of course. I really enjoy my teammates and I love these guys in this locker room,'' he said. ''We've done a lot this season. We were 4-12 last season, a lot of work has been done and I had a lot of fun. Obviously a little disappointed in the way it ended.''

Lewis rushed for 1,304 yards, joining Jim Brown as the only Browns' running backs to break 1,300 in a season. In recent weeks, Lewis sounded like he wanted to stay in Cleveland. Presumably he'll be seeking a multi-year deal.

''There's a lot more I can do,'' Lewis said. ''This year I just wanted to prove to myself and to the coaches that brought me in that I can get it done. Next year I want to go over the top and prove I'm one of the best backs in this league.''

Browns receiver Joe Jurevicius, 33, said he's coming back for one more season and hopes he'll be joined by Anderson and Lewis.

''They're two of the big reasons we're sitting here with 10 wins and 7-1 at home,'' Jurevicius said. ''Derek is deserving of everything he's going to get. He played strong, was a leader in the huddle, spread the ball around, made plays, was a general on the field.''

Jurevicius felt just as strongly about Lewis, who notched his fifth 100-yard game of the season in the finale against San Francisco.

''When you have Jamal Lewis, who rushed for over 9,000 yards in his career and he has another 100-yard game, it shows you what a potent running attack can do,'' Jurevicius said. ''It opens up the pass and vice versa. What's so special about Jamal is he's a leader. He's kind of a quiet warrior, but he's a leader out there. Guys respond to him.''

Jurevicius, a Cleveland native, was optimistic that general manager Phil Savage could find a way to retain both.

''I have every reason to believe we'll see them again next year in an orange helmet,'' Jurevicius said, ''and that's going to be a big reason why this city's going to get used to success.''

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