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Quotes from GM Phil Savage Press Conference

Selected Quotes from Phil Savage Press Conference
02.29.08 (On how the deal came together for DL Corey Williams)- “We felt like that if we really had sincere interest in him, would we be willing to give up something to maybe get him. Obviously, once the league year began last night, we contacted the Packers and said, ‘hey, would you be willing – if we were going to do a long-term deal – would you be willing to do something for less than the tender was,’ which was two number one’s. We talked about it for a while, back and forth and ultimately came to the conclusion that it was worth a second round pick for us to get a defensive lineman who has played in the league, has had success in the league and quite honestly, when we met on the draft two weeks ago and forecasted what would be available in that 53-56 range, I was not comfortable at all that we were going to find a defensive lineman in that realm of the draft. Other position players, yes, defensive linemen, no, and with that being said we felt that Corey was one of the main pieces of the puzzle. He and a couple other players – we felt that we had to get one of them, so we were willing to do that. We gave up the second round pick and he’s a Brown. We’re excited about that. I feel like he will be a very valuable addition to us. Not only because of his rushing ability on the inside, but also his ability to play the run. He’s 6’4”, 313 (pounds), so he fits the dimensions of the 3-4 and he’s a real good guy. We think he’ll fit in well with our team and give us some legitimacy on the defensive front.”

(On reaching a deal with QB Derek Anderson)- “The next order of business was Derek Anderson. With Derek, obviously the Corey Williams piece was from midnight until whenever and then the Derek piece has been going on since the Senior Bowl, in terms of working with he and his agents. As I’ve said, and I don’t know how many times I have to say it, but as I said from the end of the season when I met with the press and talked on the radio every Thursday – our intention for 2008 was to keep both quarterbacks and our intention was to sign Derek to a contract of some length. At the time I didn’t know if it was a two-year deal, a seven-year deal – what have you. Internally, we felt that in order to keep ourselves in the most optimal position with both quarterbacks was to do a shorter-term deal with (Anderson). Obviously, his people wanted to do a six-year deal. A quarterback coming off a Pro Bowl season generally gets a six-year deal. That was something we had to work through for a long time. Ultimately, when we got to the three-year range, the money began to be talked about. I know it was reported at different times what the offers were for and I would venture to say that from what I read in the paper at different times, was it close, yes. Was it exactly accurate, probably not? But going into yesterday afternoon and last night we were already above what some of the figures were that were in the papers. I felt like that, again, when we left our final meeting for free agency and our football team, we felt that we had three main objectives – sign [RB] Jamal [Lewis] back, sign Derek back and also try to address the defensive line. I think for the first day of free agency we were able to do that. Last night, we continued to work on it. It was hit-and-miss, up and down, emotions up, emotions down. I know people get their hearts set on first and third picks, but honestly I wasn’t interested in late one’s and late three’s. I’m not interested in that. I’m interested in keeping the player and keeping our offense in tact with [offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski] at the controls and bringing our playmakers back, having them at full strength, keeping the offensive line in place, seeing how far this particular group of players could go and maintain some continuity for once in the history of the new Browns on offense. We wanted to do what we could to retain (Anderson’s) services and we did that.”

(On his thoughts on not having a first or second round pick)- “Hey, no one loves the draft more than I do. But when you look at what free agency was going to offer, in terms of defensive linemen in particular – and they’re all getting tagged and franchised, we came to a conclusion beforehand that if we have to sacrifice – sometimes you can use the draft, like we did in 2006. Then other times, you might have to use a trade. Other times, you use free agency. I think in this particular case, we had to use a draft pick thus far, to try and benefit ourselves. I knew there was going to be some sacrificed involved, in trying to go obtain a player that we wanted. But in my mind, in our estimation, a legitimate defensive lineman who still has a lot of upside potential, seemed to be a good fit for us. It’s going to be tough to sit there and watch all these players come off the board. I would say that our scouting staff has spent more time getting ready for this year’s draft than any of the other ones since I have been here because we weren’t sure what was going to happen. Now we can narrow our focus down and lower our gun sights – if you will – and get to know those mid-level to lower players a little better and maybe we’ll find a gem or two.”

(On where he sees DL Corey Williams playing on the line)- “I think he’ll play either side – either left or right end. We’re prepared to have Shaun Smith as the nose (tackle), so Corey we’ll play left or right end, depending on the situation with Robaire Smith, in terms of where they can be at their best. Once we go to passing situations and sub, he’ll be an inside rusher, which will be very similar to what he’s been doing in Green Bay.”

(On where the difficulty of the contract negotiations with Anderson rank among some of the other contracts he has negotiated)- “I think they’re all hard in a lot of ways. They’re the higher-profile ones. They’re difficult and this situation is unique. We’ve got two quarterbacks under 25 years of age. The teams that have done six and seven year deals didn’t have a Brady Quinn in the wings. That puts a different variable into it. I thought they fought hard and I thought we fought hard and ultimately I think we came to an agreement that worked for them, but also works for us.”

(On whether they considered trading Anderson at any point)- “No, we’ve never done that. The only thing we were prepared – and as I said yesterday – I don’t know what’s really going to happen. If a team wanted to do an offer sheet on (Anderson) and they want to put a poison pill in there and we can’t match it, I assumed we’d take the picks and move on. That’s not all bad, but again, I want to emphasize that in reviewing the team and knowing how much we’ve done to this roster over the last three-plus years – to go into the season with only one quarterback and being an injury away from our whole season being de-railed, like you see every single year in the NFL – I didn’t want to put our organization at that risk. I explained it to our owner. The coaches understand that. Our personnel staff understands that and we’re in a good spot. We have two good quarterbacks. Actually, three, because a lot of fans said Ken Dorsey should have been the starter last summer. If that was the case, then we must have three good quarterbacks. I always say two and the Ken Dorsey and I don’t mean that as a slight toward him. He’s a capable player and he’s been extremely valuable to us behind the scenes.”

(On whether they are pretty committed to hanging on to Anderson at this point)- “Absolutely. I’ve said all along that our intent from the end of the season, once we had our team review and decided what we were going to try and do for 2008 – we would do our very best and that it would include both quarterbacks. I did not want to put the whole team at risk to losing (Anderson) and then having an injury and then all of the sudden, where are we in all this? We put too much work into it and too much effort into it. You see it happen every single year. You guys can figure – go back and look at what happened last year. The team is located somewhere in the Southeast. They moved a quarterback and the other guy ran into problems and the next thing you know, the whole thing was out of whack.”

(On whether the commitment to Anderson ‘requires’ a talk with Brady Quinn)- “I don’t know that it requires it. I feel that anytime we make a move – and I talk to the coaches about this yesterday – when we sign a player, trade a player, make a move, don’t get a player, there’s an impact and affect on a number of things. I feel like I definitely should spend some time with Brady and explain where we are and why we did what we did. He’s still very much a big part of this team and a big part of this organization. I don’t de-emphasize where he is in his career with the Browns at all.”

(On whether he would tell Quinn that it’s an ‘open battle’ still)- “When you sign a contract like we did with Derek, I don’t think there’s going to be an ‘open competition.’ We go in with Derek as the lead horse. You don’t sign a contract like that and say, hey, it’s an open competition. Obviously, if Brady goes out there and plays that well and (Anderson) is not doing that well, then we have the where with all to put the relief pitcher in. The scenario you are painting might have occurred had he just come back on the tender. At that point we would be looking at this a whole different way.”

(On whether the contract Anderson signed makes him untradeable this year, even if they wanted to trade him)- “I think it would just probably depend on how you looked at it. I would think not, but that’s not how we approach it at all. We are not trading Derek Anderson in 2008.”

(On whether they would consider trading Quinn)- “No. We’re going through 2008 with both quarterbacks.”

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