"If anybody is interested in him, we'll just have to see how it goes," coach Romeo Crennel said. "Sometimes people can make you an offer and you can say, 'No, I think I'm going to stay with what I got.' Sometimes they make you an offer and you say, 'Oooohhh.' "The Vikings have four major areas that quite obviously need to be improved this offseason if the Purple want to make the playoffs: quarterback, wide receiver, cornerback and defensive end. In the first of what will be a recurring series, I'm going to take a look at the Vikings various options at their positions of need, starting with quarterback. There are three obvious answers to the Vikings' quarterback needs, Tarvaris Jackson, Donovan McNabb and Derek Anderson and all have their merits. Today, we're going to start by examining a possible trade with the Cleveland Browns for Derek Anderson (you may have been able to guess this by reading the title of the post).
After replacing the ineffective (to put it politely) Charlie Frye during the Browns' first game, Anderson completed 13 of 28 passes (46%) for 184 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception. It was an inauspicious beginning, but it was enough to win him a start against the Bengals in Week 2, and he lead the Browns to a victory by throwing for 328 yards and 5 touchdowns, while completing 20 of 33 passes and only throwing one interception. It was not the start of a run of dominance (he followed it with 57.0 QB rating in Week 3 and a 59.0 QB Rating in Week 5), it was the start of a very good season, where he would complete 56.5% of his passes (28th overall) for 3,787 yards (9th overall), 29 touchdowns (5th overall) and finish with a quarterback rating of 82.5 (17th overall). Looking at the advanced stats, he finished with 65.3 DPAR (11th overall) and a 15.5% DVOA (15th overall), while gaining 6.80 yards per passing attempt (while I don't have individual ranking, Houston was 5th overall in team YPA with 6.81 YPA).
It was an impressive season from a quarterback in his third year, but there are still quite a few question marks about Derek Anderson's ability to be a franchise quarterback, something he would need to be if the Vikings traded for him, as the Browns would likely demand a 1st and a 3rd round pick (see the "Oooohhh" in the quote above), a very steep price. Then again, the last three players the Vikings picked in the third round were Marcus McCauley (2007), Dustin Fox (2005) and Darrion Scott (2004). They also have the Broncos third round pick from a trade last year and it's not like a franchise quarterback isn't worth the 17th overall pick.
But is Anderson a franchise quarterback? His youth, yards per attempt, DPAR, DVOA, touchdown passes and ability to avoid sacks (he was only sacked 14 times) say yes, but his inaccuracy says no. His completion percentage was lower than Tarvaris Jackson's and he threw 19 interceptions, which was only topped by Carson Palmer, Eli Manning and Jon Kitna, who all threw 20 picks. He also imploded against an awful Cincinnati defense (89.2 QB Rating against) in the Browns second to last game of the season, throwing four picks and costing them a playoff spot (so he'd fit in here). All of his good games (better than 85.0 QB Rating) came against teams that finished outside the top 20 in QB Rating against, and he only had a QB Rating of 80 or better against two teams in the top half of the league in QB Rating against (83.4 against 9th ranked Pittsburgh and 83.3 against the 16th ranked New York Jets).
Should the Vikings give the Browns a phone call about Derek Anderson? Definitely. Should they be willing to throw a 1st and a 3rd round draft pick at them to get him? Well, that depends a lot on their two other options, which I'll examine soon.