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 CLEVELAND (AP) -The Cleveland Browns are going down to the wire in contract talks with quarterback Derek Anderson.
Isn't that how they do everything?
The Browns, who weren't eliminated from playoff contention until the final seconds of the season, have offered a three-year contract to Anderson. Speaking at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis on Friday, general manager Phil Savage characterized talks with Anderson's agents as ``positive'' and remains optimistic that a deal can be struck before Anderson hits the open market.
``We've made some progress,'' Savage said. ``There's nothing to report today, but we've got a week left until free agency begins. I know people are considering that to be a hard deadline, but in a lot of ways, it's almost a perforated deadline.''
Savage, too, is prepared if a deal can't be reached.
The Browns can tender Anderson with a one-year contract worth $2.5 million by Feb. 29. If another team makes an offer to the 24-year-old, the Browns can match it or receive first- and third-round picks as compensation if he signs elsewhere.
Cleveland traded its first-round pick in 2008 to Dallas on draft day last year to select quarterback Brady Quinn, whom the team believes will eventually become its starter.
``We can still put the tender on him and continue to talk if that's something they wanted to do,'' he said. ``Our preference is to get it done before the free-agency period begins, but at this point I'm not sure that's going to happen one way or the other.''
Anderson began last season as Charlie Frye's backup, but took over as the starter in Week 2 after Frye was traded to Seattle. Anderson threw six TD passes in his first start and 29 for the season and nearly 4,000 yards. He led the Browns to 10 wins and was named a Pro Bowl alternate.
Coach Romeo Crennel understands Anderson's value and would like to have him back.
``It's important,'' he said about the necessity of signing Anderson. ``It's not as important if we didn't have a Brady Quinn in house. But it is important because the guy did win 10 games for us. He was productive, and to maintain continuity, it would be a pretty good thing.''
Savage said one of the only hang-ups in negotiations is the length of the Browns' offer. Anderson's agents have seen quarterbacks like Tony Romo and Matt Schwab get long-term deals, and were hoping to get their client get a similar package.
``They look at some quarterbacks out there that got six-year deals. We're trying to do something a little bit unique in our situation, because of the makeup of our team right now. We feel a 3-year agreement is one that would work for both sides, because Derek is 24 years old. He could play three years and then potentially hit free agency again where the money could be $70-$80 million. We have our reasons; they have theirs, but that's kind of where it stands right now.''
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