The Browns today signed guard John Greco, a native of Boardman, Ohio, to a five-year contract extension through 2017.

It means Greco will most likely keep the starting job he stepped into last season.

Greco, who replaced Jason Pinkston for 10 games last year after Pinkston suffered a blood clot in his lung, is a leading candidate to start on the left side again, but also a challenger on the right, where Shawn Lauvao is penciled in.

“John is a solid, all-around teammate, on and off the field,” said coach Rob Chudzinski in a release. “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.”

Pinkston returned to action in minicamp last month, but might need some time to get back into football shape after being out since mid-October with the life-threatening condition.

Greco graded out well in his 10 starts last season, and didn't miss a snap over the first nine. He left the season finale in Pittsburgh with a knee injury in the fourth quarter, but is fully recovered.

The Browns currently have three guards vying for the two starting spots in Greco, Pinkston and Lauvao.

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