St. Clair brings experience to Browns

Updated: March 17, 2009, 8:26 PM ET
By Len Pasquarelli | ESPN.com

Creating competition at right tackle and perhaps adding an experienced starter, the Cleveland Browns signed nine-year veteran and unrestricted free-agent John St. Clair on Tuesday.

St. Clair received a three-year deal, worth $9-10 million, from Cleveland.

St. Clair had played the past four seasons with the Chicago Bears, who attempted to re-sign him. The loss of St. Clair, coupled with the offseason retirement of John Tait, leaves Chicago without both of its 2008 starters. St. Clair was a key player to retain for the Bears, but their offer was well below the Browns' proposal.

At the very least, St. Clair will compete with veteran Ryan Tucker for the right tackle spot, formerly held by Kevin Shaffer. The Browns recently released Shaffer to avoid paying him a roster bonus. There were rumors that Schaffer would re-sign at a lower salary, but the edition of St. Clair probably makes that a moot point.

At the worst, the Browns gained a solid No. 3 "swing" tackle with experience starting on both the left and right sides.

Originally drafted by the St. Louis Rams in 2000, the former third-rounder is joining his fourth NFL franchise. St. Clair has played with the Rams (2000-03), the Miami Dolphins (2004), and the Bears (2005-08).

Although he started 16 games for the Rams in 2002, St. Clair wasn't regarded as a full-time starter until signing with the Bears. He played his best football, by far in Chicago, and started all 16 games in 2008.

For his career, St. Clair has started in 55 of 107 appearances.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior writer with ESPN.com.