The Cleveland Browns released offensive lineman and fan favorite Eric Steinbach on Wednesday. The big guard was coming off back surgery and set to make $6 million in 2012 - a risk the club was not willing to take. The two sides were apparently trying to re-negotiate a deal, but nothing could be worked out so they set him loose. It was an amicable separation, as evidenced by statements coming from both sides
General Manager Tom Heckert's statement via Cleveland.com:
"These types of decisions are the difficult part of this job, especially when it involves a player such as Eric Steinbach. Eric exhibited tremendous leadership and passion for the game during his time here. We want to thank him for his contributions."
Steinbach had an equally classy statement, expressing love and gratitude for the fans of Cleveland with a little salute to Will Ferrell's Anchorman:
"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!"
While both sides are currently separated, initial reports indicate that they will continue to talk about a new deal to stay on with the Browns.