Boardman graduate signs five-year deal with Browns

CLEVELAND – Bernie Kosar isn’t the only Boardman athlete who found a home with the Browns.

The team announced Tuesday that guard John Greco has signed a five-year contract. The Boardman High School graduate will enter his third season with the Browns this year after arriving in a 2011 trade with the St. Louis Rams.

Greco was used as a backup in 2011 behind then-rookie Jason Pinkston and Shaun Lauvao. Greco started the final 10 games of last season after Pinkston suffered a blood clot, impressing former coach Pat Shurmur.

Signing Greco to a lengthy contract is evidence first-year coach Rob Chudzinski and general manager Mike Lombardi value his ability. Greco had one year remaining on a three-year contract that would have paid him $800,000 this season.

“One of our goals is whenever possible to develop and keep our own players,” president and CEO Joe Banner said in a statement. “We’re glad in this case that it worked out and was mutually beneficial.”

Greco played left guard in his 2012 starts but worked some at right guard during a June minicamp. It appears he’s now in line to start, with either Pinkston or Lauvao getting the assignment on the opposite side.

“John is a solid, all-around teammate, on and off the field,” Chudzinski said. “He was given an opportunity to play last year and really showed well. He’s respected in the locker room for his approach, consistency and team-first attitude.”

Greco (6-4, 315 pounds) was selected in the third round (65th overall) of the 2008 draft by the Rams after a successful college career at Toledo. He appeared in 26 games with four starts in three seasons with the Rams. The Browns gave up a seventh-round pick to acquire Greco.

The offensive line shapes up as a strength. Left tackle Joe Thomas has made six straight Pro Bowl appearances since his rookie season of 2007, and right tackle Mitchell Schwartz exceeded expectations last season at right tackle. Greco solidifies one of the guard spots, and Alex Mack is among the elite centers in the NFL.