DANA POINT, Calif. (AP) – Brady Quinn or Derek Anderson? Eric Mangini isn’t sure, so he’s throwing the Cleveland Browns quarterback job into a free-for-all.

“I don’t have a projected starter at this point,” Mangini said Tuesday at the NFL meetings. “What we’re going to do is we’ll have an open competition where they’ll both get a chance to establish that they’ll be the starter.”

Anderson, coming off a Pro Bowl season in 2007, opened last year as the starter. As the Browns struggled, he was benched for Quinn. Both quarterbacks subsequently were injured, and Mangini replaced Romeo Crennel as coach after Cleveland finished 4-12.

Mangini, who was fired by the Jets after they collapsed from 8-3 to 9-7 and didn’t make the playoffs, has been on a quarterback carousel before. He had three starters in his three seasons in New York: Chad Pennington, Kellen Clemens and Brett Favre.

“I’m excited about both of them,” he said of Quinn, heading into his third season, and Anderson, who will be in his fifth. “I sat down with both of them, been able to spend some time with them.

“I like both guys. I like a lot of the things that I’ve learned about them in terms of through the conversations and also things that I’ve seen on tape.”

What he also has seen on tape are lots of mistakes and lots of losses as the Browns plummeted from 10-6 in 2007 to last place in the AFC North. Anderson received a big contract after his breakthrough ’07 season, a three-year, $24 million deal with a $5 million bonus he collected this month. But he struggled before being replaced by Quinn for the ninth game.

Quinn, who has a five-year, $20.2 million contract, lasted just three games before breaking a finger on his right hand and needing surgery. Anderson returned, but he injured left knee ligaments in the 12th game and was done, too.

Anderson was 3-6 in his starts last year with nine touchdowns, eight interceptions and a passer rating of 66.5. Quinn was 1-2 with two touchdowns, two interceptions, and a 66.6 passer rating.

They weren’t helped by a leaky line and poor performances by their receivers, particularly with wideout Braylon Edwards dropping many passes.

But Mangini has to look for the positives heading toward his first season in Cleveland.

“Without knowing exactly what they were being asked to do on each of the plays, you’re projecting a little bit,” he said. “But they both seemed to have good presence, a good command of the situation. And they each did different things in the passing game and the running game that I liked.”

There’s always the possibility one of them will be traded; few teams can afford to have so much money invested in one position, even quarterback.

“George and I are looking at any opportunity to improve the team,” Mangini said of general manager George Kokinis. “But I’m in no way saying that is specific to the quarterback situation. We’d look at any opportunities to improve the team, but not specific to the QB situation. Any opportunity that came up, we’d look at it.”

AP-ES-03-24-09 1914EDT

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