Browns Release Eric Steinbach, Could Eventually Return
The Cleveland Browns and guard Eric Steinbach are mutually parting ways after failing to agree to terms on a new contract Wednesday.
According to Mary Kay Cabot of The Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Browns released Steinbach–upon his request–saving the team $6 million while he immediately becomes a free agent. Steinbach originally signed a seven-year, $49.5 million contract with the Browns when he joined the team in 2007, but was reportedly asked to take a pay-cut after missing all of 2011 due to injury.
Both parties released statements regarding the matter, per Cabot.
“These types of decisions are the difficult part of this job, especially when it involves a player such as Eric Steinbach,” said Browns general manager Tom Heckert. He spoke kindly of Steinbach, continuing, “Eric exhibited tremendous leadership and passion for the game during his time here.” Heckert closed by thanking Steinbach.
Steinbach and his agent, Jack Bechta, released a joint statement, and spoke about how both parties will continue negotiations. “Eric Steinbach could part ways with the Cleveland Browns. Asked to take a significant salary reduction in late February, the two sides have not been able to reach an agreement on a new deal, so Steinbach has asked for his release. However, the two sides will keep talking while Steinbach will simultaneously explore the free agent market,” the statement said.
The 31-year-old guard began his career with the Cincinnati Bengals in 2003, where he played four seasons before joining the Browns. Until missing all of last season, Steinbach had only missed two games with the Browns, giving up only 12.5 sacks in those four years. He was an alternate for the Pro Bowl in 2007.