The Cleveland Browns signed free agent offensive tackle John St. Clair to a three year contract reportedly worth up to $9-million. The Browns recently released starting right tackle Kevin Shaffer, restructured Ryan Tucker’s contract to the veterans minimum and signed former Seahawks lineman Floyd Womack.
St. Clair manned the left tackle position last year for the Chicago Bears but is a versatile lineman capable of filling in at any position along the offensive line except for center. Look for him to start at right tackle for the Browns in 2009. He is a journeyman, and better at run blocking than in pass protection.
Fantasy Football Impact
Shaffer was a former left tackle forced to play on the right side after the team acquired Joe Thomas in the 2007 draft. He is not a physical player and it appears the team wanted a more physical presence at the postion. St. Clair will provide that but this isn’t a move that provides a significant upgrade for the team. This move will have minimal impact on a Browns team that struggled offensively in 2008, failing to score an offensive touchdown the final 6 weeks of the season, and traded away tight end Kellen Winslow. Currently the team does not possess a proven receiving tight end, quality third receiver or a solid option to incumbent starting running back Jamal Lewis. Throw in starting wide receiver Donte Stallworth’s legal problems and the Browns look like a fantasy mess heading into 2009.
Leave it to Bears general manager Jerry Angelo to blow another veteran personnel decision. With John Tait’s retirement and St. Clair’s free agent defection, the team’s current starting offensive tackles figure to be 2008 1st round pick Chris Williams and former Falcon and Panther Frank Omiyale, who have combined to start one game in the NFL. With an aging Olin Kreutz at center and journeymen guards in Roberto Garza, Josh Beekman and Dan Buenning, the interior of the team’s offensive line is not equipped to make up for deficiencies at tackle.
The Bears will have to address their offensive line but there is little talent left in the free agent market so the team may have to use an early draft pick in this area and start another young player in 2009. This doesn’t bode well for running back Matt Forte replicating his rookie performance or for Kyle Orton progresssing at quarterback.