Who is the best player to wear No. 3 for the Cleveland Browns?
The countdown to the 2020 NFL season is upon us. With 3 days remaining until the Browns season opener, we continue the countdown by celebrating the best Cleveland Browns player to wear number 3: Derek Anderson.
Derek Anderson was born in Scappoose, Oregon, and grew up rooting for the Oregon State Beavers. After a stellar high school career that saw Anderson win the State Player of the Year in both football and basketball, he chose to accept a football scholarship at Oregon State. During his time as a Beaver, Anderson set several school records and finished his career with 11,249 passing yards and 79 touchdown passes.
Selected by Baltimore in the 6th round of the 2005 NFL, Anderson would be waived just weeks into his rookie year. The Cleveland Browns picked Anderson up on waivers and slotted him as their third-string quarterback.
Anderson’s spent his second year with the Browns as Charlie Frye’s backup. The Browns were only in year two of the Frye experiment and wanted desperately for him to be the franchise quarterback. Anderson started three games in 2006 towards the end of the season and went 0-3 as the Browns were in a tailspin.
2007 would prove to be Anderson’s high-water mark during his time with the Browns. After narrowly losing the quarterback battle with Frye during training camp, Anderson once again entered the season as the backup. That all changed after a disastrous first half in the season opener. With 6:34 seconds remaining in the first half, Anderson relieved Frye of his quarterbacking duties. He would go on to start the remainder of the season, and Frye would be traded six days later to the Seattle Seahawks.
Anderson’s coming out party would happen in Week 2 against the Cincinnati Bengals. In a first half that saw an astounding five lead changes, Anderson and the Browns held their own with a fiercely potent Bengals offense. In the second half, the Browns were able to hold on to their lead and walk away from the shootout with a 51-45 victory. Anderson finished the game with 328 yards and five passing touchdowns. He would win AFC offensive player of the week for his performance.
The third-year quarterback was able to keep the momentum from the game against the Bengals and use it as a springboard for the rest of his 2007 campaign. Two weeks later, Anderson faced the team that drafted him and again led the Browns to a divisional win against Baltimore. The Browns would go on to beat Baltimore later in the season and sweep the Ravens for the first and only time in team history.
Anderson led the Browns to a 10-6 record, and although they narrowly missed the playoffs (thanks Peyton Manning), the 2007 season provided the most fun that any Browns team has given their fans since re-entering the league in 1999. In 2007, Anderson threw for 3,787 yards, 29 touchdowns, and led the NFL with 12.7 yards per completion. Anderson would play in the only Pro Bowl of his career for his efforts.
Anderson’s remaining two years with the Browns were filled quarterback controversies and disappointment. He started 16 games over two seasons and compiled a 6-10 record, and the Browns released Anderson after the 2009 season.
Anderson would go on to play nine seasons after leaving Cleveland as a backup quarterback for three different NFL teams. Most notably a seven-year stint as Cam Newton’s backup in Carolina. Anderson retired after the 2018 season.
For one season, Derek Anderson was a top ten quarterback and gave fans hope and that is enough to make him the best player to wear number three for the Cleveland Browns.