Derek Anderson, the 24-year-old Cleveland quarterback who stepped in as a starter after the first game and led the Browns to a 10-6 record last season, was tendered a one-year offer for $2.5 million Thursday.
But Browns general manager Phil Savage said that if another team makes the restricted free agent a better offer, Cleveland is unlikely to match it.
Cleveland also has made a $20 million, three-year offer with $10 million guaranteed to Anderson. But having traded away this year's first-round pick to take Brady Quinn in last year's draft, the Browns apparently feel Quinn remains their quarterback of the future.
If Anderson does move, Cleveland would get first- and third-round choices for him.
``If Derek wants to be a Brown and really wants to stay here in Cleveland and play with the players that are on our team, then he can do that rather easily,'' Savage said. ``We can look in the mirror and know we put a strong offer out there.
``But he's earned the right to get to this point because of his play last year. We're in a good situation either way.''
Another quarterback, Alex Smith got a vote of confidence from San Francisco. The 49ers exercised a multimillion-dollar buyback clause in the former No. 1 draft pick's contract that essentially extends his deal through 2010.
Smith, who floundered through injuries and a public argument with coach Mike Nolan last season, will compete with former third-stringer Shaun Hill for the team's starting job. But general manager Scot McCloughan showed the 49ers' feelings about him by overriding language in Smith's contract that could have allowed him to become a free agent after next season.
``It just shows that we believe in him to be our guy,'' McCloughan said. ``He and Shaun are going to go out there and compete, and the winner of that is going to be a good quarterback for us.''
McCloughan declined to say how much the move cost the 49ers, though he said the overall deal was similar one made last season by the New York Giants, who bought back two voidable years in Eli Manning's contract for a reported $5 million. Manning, another No. 1 overall pick who had struggled, went on to quarterback the Giants to a Super Bowl victory.
Smith has started 30 games in his three seasons with San Francisco, passing for 4,679 yards, 19 touchdowns and 31 interceptions while getting sacked 81 times.
Those moves came as other teams maneuvered their rosters to get ready for the start of free agency at 12:01 a.m. It included the release of two of the most notable players of the recent decade: Isaac Bruce and Jevon Kearse.
Bruce, the last player remaining from the Rams' 1995 move from Los Angeles, was let go by St. Louis, which also cut backup quarterback Gus Frerotte.
The 35-year-old receiver, a second-round draft pick in 1994, is among the NFL career leaders with 942 receptions for 14,109 yards and 84 touchdowns. He was the Rams' second leading receiver last season with 55 catches for 733 yards and four TDs.
Kearse was released by Philadelphia after four mostly disappointing and injury-plagued seasons with the Eagles, who signed him to a $66 million, eight-year deal in 2004 that at the time made him the highest-paid defensive end in NFL history.
He ended up being benched last season and had only 3 1/2 sacks in 14 games after missing most of 2006 with a knee injury. In fact, his career high in sacks, 14 1/2, came in his rookie season with Tennessee, 1999 and his only other double-figure sack years were his second and third. He had 22 in his four seasons in Philadelphia.
In other moves:
-Baltimore cut 33-year-old Mike Flynn, one of the last remaining cornerstones of its Super Bowl championship team of eight years ago. His release will save the Ravens $2 million against the league's $116 million salary cap.
-Veteran linebacker Zach Thomas officially joined Dallas, with whom he signed a one-year $3.3 million deal last week after being released by Miami.
-Wide receiver David Givens was released by Tennessee. The former New England starter, who signed a five-year $24 million deal in 2006, played only five games that year before suffering a serious knee injury and didn't play at all in 2007. The team also tendered one-year offers to seven restricted free agents, including All-Pro kicker Rob Bironas, tight end Bo Scaife and starting right tackle David Stewart.
-Fullback Lorenzo Neal, 37, was released by the San Diego Chargers, who also parted with safety Marlon McCree and right tackle Shane Olivea. General manager A.J. Smith said all three requested their release so they can quickly jump into free agency.
-Buffalo released cornerback Kiwaukee Thomas, who missed the last seven games last season with a groin injury. An eight-year veteran, he started three games last season.
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