CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- Todd Steussie, the two-time Pro Bowl left tackle who helped the Minnesota Vikings rack up an NFL-record 556 points during the 1998-1999 season, has signed a four-year contract with the Carolina Panthers.
Steussie, 30, is the third major free agent acquisition on the offensive line for the Panthers, who surrendered a league-high 69 sacks in the 2000 season.
Carolina previously added center Jeff Mitchell from the Baltimore Ravens and guard Kevin Donnalley from the Miami Dolphins in an effort to beef up their sagging pass protection.
"We think he's one of the better left offensive tackles in football," Panthers head coach George Seifert said Thursday. "He brings experience at that position and that's something that we've been looking for. Aside from that, he's also been a very durable player throughout his career."
The seven-year veteran's contract is a four-year deal worth between $4 million and $5 million a season.
Steussie, 6-foot-6 and 308 pounds, helped Robert Smith rush for four consecutive 1,000-yard seasons with the Vikings. Steussie was released earlier this offseason by the Vikings in a salary cap move after refusing to renegotiate his current contract.
Steussie's main responsibility this season will be protecting the blindside of team's new quarterback, Jeff Lewis.
"I'm excited about the potential of the team," Steussie said. "I spoke with a number of players I knew on the team and heard nothing but positive things about the organization."
Originally a first-round pick by the Vikings in 1994, Steussie became the first Vikings offensive lineman to start all 16 games as a rookie. He's started 111 games in his NFL career.
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