Cowboys DT Stephen Paea Retires

Cowboys defensive tackle Stephen Paea informed his coaches on Wednesday that he is retiring, a source tells ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter). Naturally, this comes as a huge surprise here in Week 6. Paea’s retirement comes just moments after owner Jerry Jones finished meeting with players regarding the anthem protests, but we don’t have confirmation yet on whether that was what sparked the decision.Stephen Paea (vertical)

Paea was the Cowboys’ starter at right defensive tackle through the first four games of the season. He missed the Week 5 game against the Packers with a knee issue and was said to be questionable for Week 7 against the Niners on the other side of the bye.

Through one month of action, Paea has not looked like his old self. The advanced metrics at Pro Football Focus have him ranked as the second worst qualified interior defensive lineman in the NFL. Last year, he ranked as PFF’s 40th-best interior D-lineman among 127 qualifiers.

Paea, still only 29, was signed this offseason to replace the departed Terrell McClain. He became even more vital to the Cowboys’ front four when Cedric Thornton was released in early September.

The Cowboys were Paea’s fourth – and apparently final – NFL team. Since entering the league as a second-round pick in 2011, he has also suited up for the Bears, Redskins, and Browns.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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