Big signings as free agency opens

NEW YORK, March 2 (UPI) -- Cornerback Nate Clements signed with San Francisco and offensive tackle Eric Steinbach signed with Cleveland Friday on the NFL's first day of free agency.

There were 448 players whose contracts expired at the end of the 2006 season and who are free to move to a new team.


Clements, who spent the first six years of his career with Buffalo, signed with the 49ers for $80 million over eight years. It was the largest contract ever awarded a defensive player in pro football.

Steinbach, meanwhile, signed a seven-year deal worth $49 million with the Cleveland Browns. He will move to Cleveland from Cincinnati, where he has been for four seasons.

In other signings Friday, offensive guard Derrick Dockery was given a seven-year, $49 million contract by Buffalo and Tampa Bay picked up defensive end Patrick Chukwurah for five years and $5.5 million.

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