The Browns released left guard Eric Steinbach, the team announced today.
Steinbach, 31, injured his back this past August and missed the entire season after undergoing surgery. He was scheduled to make a base salary of $6 million in 2012.
“These types of decisions are the difficult part of this job, especially when it involves a player such as Eric Steinbach,” Browns General Manager Tom Heckert said in statement. “Eric exhibited tremendous leadership and passion for the game during his time here. We want to thank him for his contributions.”
Steinbach signed with the Browns as an unrestricted free agent on March 2, 2007. He started all but two games in his first four seasons with the Browns.
As a rookie last season, Jason Pinkston started all 16 games at left guard in Steinbach's absence. Browns coach Pat Shurmur has said he would like to see Pinkston continue to develop as a guard instead of switching to tackle.
Steinbach and his agent, Jack Bechta, who's also a contributor for National Football Post, released the following joint statement to the website:
“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.”
"It has been a good ride in Cleveland and I hope it can continue. I'm proud to say that the offensive line has been a bright spot through the past few seasons. It has been a privilege to play for the city of Cleveland and it's rich tradition. Mr. Lerner has always treated me with respect and I sincerely appreciate the opportunity to work for him and his organization. I will continue to work with the Browns through my agent in hopes of striking a deal that is practical and fair for both sides. In the mean time, I will explore other opportunities. If I do move on, I want to thank the people and fans of Cleveland who have treated my family and I with great support and hospitality. If my time here comes to an end, I want the people of this great city to remember one thing; "You stay classy Cleveland!"
“After suffering from nerve-related symptoms in early August of 2011, the 31-year-old had a procedure done on August 30, 2011 in order to remove a disk fragment from his spinal nerve. He is on schedule for a complete recovery and wants to play for four more years. He should be fully cleared to perform all football related task by April 15th.”