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Steelers come to terms with lineman, cornerback

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By Mike Prisuta
Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Steelers brought back two more of their unrestricted free agents today. Offensive tackle Trai Essex signed a two-year contract to return to the team and cornerback Fernando Bryant agreed to terms on a one-year deal.

Essex received a signing bonus of $500,000 and salaries of $620,000 and $800,000 over the next two seasons.

Bryant will earn a base salary of $745,000 in 2009.

Essex, 26, is a former third-round pick of the Steelers in 2005.

Bryant, who will turn 32 on March 26, signed with the Steelers last Nov. 11. Essex and Bryant are the seventh and eighth members of last year's team to re-sign with the Steelers.

Offensive tackles Max Starks (franchise player) and Willie Colon (restricted free agent) returned on one-year deals, as have unrestricted free agents Andre Frazier and Arnold Harrison, both linebackers (Harrison spent 2008 on injured reserve). Harrison will earn a base salary of $460,000 in 2009.

Tight end/fullback Sean McHugh (restricted free agent) signed a three-year deal. Guard Chris Kemoeatu (unrestricted free agent) returned with a five-year contract. Essex has played in 33 career regular-season games and two playoff games.

He started one game in 2005, three in the 2007 regular season and one in the 2007 postseason, all at left tackle in place of Marvel Smith.

Essex, who appeared in nine regular-season games and one playoff game in 2008, can also play guard.

Bryant played just two games for the Steelers in 2008, both in November. He played previously with Jacksonville (1999-2003) and Detroit (2004-07) and went to training camp with New England in 2008 prior to being released.

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