While most teams are concerned with who they’re going to let go with cut-down day approaching, the Browns are still adding bodies. On Friday, Cleveland agreed to terms with veteran defensive lineman Stephen Paea, adding competition and bolstering depth to the club’s three-man front.
After four seasons in Chicago, Paea spent 2015 with Washington, registering 19 tackles, 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble in 11 games with one start. A sprained toe brought last season to an early end, and the Redskins released the sixth-year veteran at the conclusion of this year’s training camp.
Paea is only 28, so the Browns should still be able to get some mileage out of the lineman. The New Zealand native was a run-stopping specialist with some pass-rush ability in the Bears’ 4-3 defense, registering a career high 6.0 sacks in ’14. However, he may have been out of place in Washington’s 3-4 alignment, making his migration to Cleveland somewhat curious.
Yet at 6-foot-1, 310 pounds, Paea is a big body the Browns can at the very least use as a rotational piece for a defensive line lacking experience. Currently penciled in to start at end are John Hughes, who has 10 career starts in four seasons, and 2015 third-round draft pick Xavier Cooper. Third-round rookie Carl Nassib is also in the mix, as will be Armonty Bryant after a four-game suspension, although both are undersized.
If nothing else, Paea brings size and experience to the role, not to mention a history of production. This has the makings of a nice, low-key signing for a Browns team that is hoping to surprise opponents in 2016.