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Browns sign Steinbach

Zac Jackson, Staff Writer

03.03.2007

The Browns first foray into free agency brought them a big-ticket item: Eric Steinbach has signed a seven-year contract.

The team announced the deal on Saturday morning, less than 48 hours after the NFL's free agency period officially opened.

Steinbach is listed at 6-foot-6, 290, and turns 27 next month. He's been a four-year starter at left guard for the high-powered Bengals offense, though he's also subbed at left tackle and is thought to be versatile enough to play any of the five line positions.

That's one reason he was regarded as one of the top available free agents at any position.

"Our hopes going into free agency included adding one of the significant linemen available in this year's class," said Browns Senior Vice President and General Manager, Phil Savage. "Eric (Steinbach) was our choice because of his versatility, durability, talent and background."

"Eric (Steinbach) is a versatile lineman," said Browns Head Coach Romeo Crennel. "We played against him twice a year and are well aware of his abilities and were impressed with what we saw. He will be a good addition to our team."

Steinbach is an athletic lineman who learned the guard position on the fly at the University of Iowa. The Bengals got what might have been the steal of the draft when he fell out of the first round in 2002; they selected him at 33, the first pick of the second round.

He's started 62 of 63 games since, twice being named a Pro Bowl alternate.

The Browns will have a media availbility with Steinbach on Saturday at 11 a.m. in Berea - which can be watched live on ClevelandBrowns.com.