Browns release veteran G Eric Steinbach

TOM WITHERS AP Sports Writer Published:

CLEVELAND (AP) -- The Cleveland Browns have released guard Eric Steinbach, who missed last season following back surgery.

Steinbach underwent an operation to fix a back disc in August and sat out his fifth season with Cleveland. He was scheduled to make $6 million in 2012. His release will give the Browns more room under the salary cap. They opened free agency about $17 million under the cap.

The Browns signed the 31-year-old to a seven-year, $49.5 million contract in 2007. Steinbach proved to be money well spent, playing in 62 of 64 games before hurting his back during training camp. It's possible the team may re-sign Steinbach, who believes he can come back and play at a high level.

Also, the Browns are close to signing free agent defensive end Frostee Rucker, who spent six seasons with Cincinnati. Rucker will sign pending a physical.