Browns trade QB Brady Quinn to Broncos

Brady Quinn will get a chance to start over in Denver. Whether

he’ll get to start is up in the air.

The Broncos acquired the former first-round draft pick from the

Cleveland Browns for fullback Peyton Hillis, a 2011 sixth-round

draft pick and a conditional pick in 2012.

The teams announced the trade Sunday and said the deal is

pending physicals.

Ostensibly, Quinn will compete with Kyle Orton for the Broncos’

starting job, although coach Josh McDaniels was unavailable Sunday

to comment on the trade, according to a team spokesman.

Quinn’s departure comes one day after the Browns agreed to terms

with free agent Jake Delhomme on a two-year contract. Quinn went

3-9 in 12 starts for Cleveland, which drafted him with the 22nd

pick in the first round in 2007 out of Notre Dame.

From Dublin, Ohio, he was embraced by Browns fans as the

quarterback of the future. But it never panned out for the Browns

or Quinn.

“I appreciate everything Brady did for us last year and in his

three seasons with the Cleveland Browns,” coach Eric Mangini said

in a statement. “He is professional in the way he goes about doing

his job and worked extremely hard at every aspect of his game. I

wish him the best of success in Denver.”

Quinn won Cleveland’s starting job last season, but was benched

after 2 1/2 games for Derek Anderson. Quinn eventually got his job

back when Anderson struggled but he was hindered by inaccuracy.

He completed only 53 percent of his passes last season for 1,339

yards with eight touchdowns and seven interceptions. His rating was

67.3.

Quinn’s days in Cleveland appeared numbered when new president

Mike Holmgren failed to endorse him as the Browns’ future starter.

Last week, the Browns acquired backup Seneca Wallace in a trade

with Seattle, released Anderson and hosted Delhomme, recently cut

by Carolina.

Holmgren’s house cleaning continued Sunday, when he shipped

another former first-round draft pick, linebacker Kamerion Wimbley,

to the Oakland Raiders for draft picks.

The Broncos reportedly pursued Quinn last season when they were

trying to replace Jay Cutler.

Instead, they dealt Cutler to Chicago for a bevy of draft picks

and Orton, who beat out Chris Simms for the starting job in

June.

The Broncos have insisted they’re happy with Orton, a

workmanlike leader who wasn’t allowed to throw downfield much last

season, when he led the Broncos to a 6-2 start before a 2-6 finish

kept them out of the playoffs for a fourth straight season.

That’s the longest drought in the 26 years Pat Bowlen has owned

the team. Bowlen recently said he likes Orton as his quarterback

but would like to see the Broncos draft a passer next month.

Those plans may now be on hold.

The Broncos lost confidence in Simms last season, so it would

appear he’s out of the picture with the acquisition of Quinn.

Last week, the Broncos offered Orton, a restricted free agent, a

first-round tender offer that would pay him $2.261 million this

season.

Like hundreds of other players caught up in the league’s labor

issues, however, Orton is expected to boycott his team’s start of

offseason training, which starts Monday for the Broncos.

With the league ripping up the labor deal in hopes of getting a

more owner-friendly contract, dozens of players who were set to

reach the riches of unrestricted free agency this month are instead

bound by their teams, which are offering much less than the players

could have made in an unfettered marketplace.

Hillis will also be getting a fresh start.

He went from starting tailback under coach Mike Shanahan in 2008

to forgotten fullback under McDaniels, who adamantly refused to use

him even though rookie running back Knowshon Moreno frequently came

up short in short-yardage situations.

McDaniels insisted that the problems were on the line and not in

the backfield and that he’d rather give the ball to his top draft

pick. With Spencer Larsen banged up for much of the season,

McDaniels said his hands were often tied because he didn’t want to

risk running Hillis, who was often his only available fullback.

Hillis had just 13 carries for 53 yards last season. He was

inactive for two games, once to attend his grandmother’s funeral in

November. He also returned four kicks.

The 240-pound bone-rattler energized the Broncos in 2008 when he

emerged during an injury epidemic among the team’s tailbacks and

ran for a team-high 343 yards and scored six touchdowns before

tearing his right hamstring against Kansas City in December.

The Browns seemed to have found their No. 1 tailback late last

season in Jerome Harrison, who finished with a team-high 862 yards

rushing. But veteran Jamal Lewis, second on the team in rushing,

was released last month, which could provide an opening for Hillis

to be the power complement to the small and quick Harrison.

So Hillis gets another chance in Cleveland while Quinn tries to

jump-start his career in Denver.

AP Sports Writer Tom Withers in Cleveland contributed to this

report.