Browns sign Steinbach to seven-year, $49.5M deal

Updated: March 2, 2007, 9:19 PM ET
By John Clayton | ESPN.com

A year ago, no one thought a guard would ever get $7 million a year but Steve Hutchinson got a seven-year, $49 million deal from the Minnesota Vikings.

Bengals guard Eric Steinbach topped Hutchinson by getting a seven-year, $49.5 million deal from the Cleveland Browns that included $17 million in guarantees. Over the first three years of the contract, he will receive $23 million.

His agent, Jack Bechta, who turned Mat McBriar of Dallas into the league's highest paid punter, narrowed his final negotiations to the Browns and the Bucs. Once the Browns topped the Hutchinson numbers, Steinbach had a deal.

In getting Steinbach, the Browns gained versatility. Though he played mostly at guard with the Bengals, Steinbach has also played at left tackle and center when needed. Once last year, he played center, guard and tackle in a game. At guard, he's considered a Pro Bowl caliber player.

With the re-signing of center Hank Fraley and the addition of Steinbach, the Browns hope to resolve the problems along their offensive line for this season.

John Clayton

NFL senior writer