The team released the one-time Pro Bowl quarterback Tuesday, one day after the Browns acquired backup Seneca Wallace in a trade from Seattle.
Anderson made the Pro Bowl in 2007 when he threw 29 touchdown passes and led the club to a 10-6 record. However, his promising career has been in a tailspin ever since. He lost his starting job to Brady Quinn at the start of last season, got it back, lost it again, returned to the starting lineup when Quinn got hurt, and won Cleveland's last two games.
The 26-year-old Anderson spent five seasons with Cleveland, which claimed him off waivers from the Baltimore Ravens in 2005. Anderson was due a $2 million roster bonus March 19 and his salary was set for $7.45 million in 2010, financial burdens that factored heavily into the Browns' decision to dump him.
"I want to thank Derek for everything that he gave to the Cleveland Browns organization over the last five years," coach Eric Mangini said in a statement. "He did everything we asked of him and it was a pleasure to coach such a competitive person. I want to wish him all the best in the future."
Anderson passed for 3,787 yards in 2007, tossing 17 of his 29 TD passes to wide receiver Braylon Edwards, whom Cleveland traded to the New York Jets last season. Blessed with one of the NFL's strongest arms, Anderson was never able to duplicate the success he attained in '07.
In seven starts last season, Anderson completed just 81 of 182 passes (45 percent) for 888 yards with three TDs and 10 interceptions. During a windy Oct. 11 game in Buffalo, Anderson went only 2-of-17 for 23 yards, but the Browns managed to eek out a 6-3 win over the Bills.
Anderson's rating was an abysmal 42.1 and the Browns went 3-4 with him in the starting lineup. But despite his struggles and constant criticism from Cleveland fans who preferred Quinn, the veteran Anderson never complained and remained one of the team's leaders.
After Quinn sustained a season-ending foot injury on Dec. 20, Anderson started and won Cleveland's final two games as the Browns finished the 2009-10 season with a four-game winning streak — a spurt that likely saved Mangini's job.
Anderson will likely catch on with another team quickly. He's 6-foot-6, he's young and he's got one of those rare rifle arms that make NFL GMs drool. He's also got experience with 34 career starts.
As for the Browns, it's still unclear which direction they'll go at quarterback. Quinn hasn't lived up to expectations and Wallace, who worked with Cleveland president Mike Holmgren with the Seahawks, has nice all-around skills but doesn't appear to be the future. Holmgren said last week that the team was actively looking for a quarterback but did not specify if that meant in free agency or via trade.
The Browns also have 11 picks in April's draft, and it's possible the club could use a high one to groom a starter.
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