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STEINBACH HOPES TO BE PART OF BROWNS TURNAROUND
The Browns filled one of their biggest needs on the first day of free agency when they signed offensive lineman Eric Steinbach to a seven-year contract worth $49 million. More than a third, $17 million, is guaranteed.
Steinbach played guard, tackle and center in four seasons with the Bengals, but his natural position is guard, and for now the Browns have him penciled in there. Of 62 starts with the Bengals, 59 were at left guard, two at left tackle and one at center.
"When we start in May, we want to have a cohesive group where hopefully they get to play one position," offensive line coach Steve Marshall said. "There are going to be some new parts to the puzzle. The draft is part of it.
"Obviously, Eric produced a lot of good football at Cincinnati as a left guard. He has not played much left tackle and he's only been an emergency center. He's been one of the better left guards in the league,"
Steinbach was taken by the Bengals with the first pick in the second round in 2003. He said he thought the Browns would take him 21st in the first round, but the Browns drafted Notre Dame center Jeff Faine instead. Faine was traded to the Saints during the draft last year so the Browns could move up in the second round.
Steinbach's arrival in Cincinnati, along with first-round pick Carson Palmer and head coach Marvin Lewis in 2003 coincided with the Bengals' turn-around. Steinbach wants to have the save affect with the Browns.
"I'm coming to Cleveland to be a vocal leader on the field and in the locker room," Steinbach said. "I want to show the younger kids how I come to work every day, get things done, and want to win.
"I was talking to Coach (Romeo) Crennel about it. You get a couple quality guys on each side of the ball, but that together, and that's how you start to turn things around. We have to teach the young kids that if you're down seven or 14 points the game isn't over. It's just the little things you have to do right."
The Browns missed out on another targeted player. They need a cornerback and wanted to sign Nate Clements, but Clements ended up signing an $80 million eight-year deal with the 49ers. They settled for a three-year deal with former Redskins cornerback Kenny Wright.
Steinbach could be the only marquee player the Browns get out of free agency this year.
"Last year we really tried to jump out in free agency and make a splash," General Manager Phil Savage said. "We had some local players we felt might have an attraction coming to Cleveland, so that probably inflated the size of the free agent class.
"My anticipation this year is it won't be as large. ... You try to keep from being gun shy. You want to go ahead and get out there. We've got the cap room to do it. We're picking high (third) in the draft. So we're going to keep working at it and try to get more right than wrong."