Stephen Paea

NFC East Notes: Cousins, 49ers, Cowboys

With the Redskins playing the Niners this week, Kirk Cousins is getting swarmed with questions about his history – and potential future – with Kyle Shanahan. During a conference call with reporters, Cousins said that the Shanahans’ plan in 2012 was to develop him, play him in the preseason, then trade him for picks to help the Redskins build for the future (Twitter link via Matt Barrows of The Sacramento Bee).

Fortunately for the Redskins, Mike Shanahan and his son did not follow through on that plan. And, fortunately for the 49ers, it doesn’t sound like Cousins is holding a grudge for any of that.

Here’s more on Cousins plus other news out of the NFC East:

  • It’s not just the Niners that could land Cousins in free agency this offseason. Mike Sando of ESPN.com weighed the possibility of the Redskins signal caller signing with several different QB-needy teams, including the Jets. The Jets, of course, have no plausible solution at quarterback going forward and free agency could be their answer if they don’t like the QBs in their draft range this year. Sando also considers teams like the Dolphins, Browns, Bills, Jaguars, and Vikings as possibilities.
  • Redskins coach Jay Gruden readily admits that it could be difficult for the team to keep Cousins this offseason (link via Nick Wagoner of ESPN.com). “At the end of the day this is a business and contracts are what they are,” Gruden said. “Players have agents and the player is always going to do what he thinks is best for himself and the family. Kirk is a great guy and we intend on keeping him. That is the plan, I would think. I’m sure not just San Francisco, if he was a free agent, I’m sure there’s a lot of teams that would be coming after him, not just San Francisco. The more tape that Kirk puts on film that he performs well like he has the last couple weeks, the harder it will be to keep him around but I think we’ll do the best we can to keep him.”
  • Cowboys coach Jason Garrett says that Stephen Paea‘s decision to retire was “all about not being able to play any more to the level he felt like he wanted to play at,” (Twitter link via Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News). Paea was dealing with a knee injury that was affecting his performance and decided to hang ’em up on Wednesday.
  • Former Redskins GM Scot McCloughan believes that Colin Kaepernick should be playing. “You know, I’m not gonna get into the politics about it, because I’m not in an office right now where I’m around it every day. I just know this: when I was in Seattle, we had some great battles, the 49ers and Seahawks. Some with Alex [Smith], and then Alex left and then Colin took over. Colin’s a good football player,” McCloughan said to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com. “From the talent standpoint, no doubt about it, he should be in the league. No doubt about it.”

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.

NFC Notes: Bucs, Cousins, Paea

Let’s take a quick swing around the NFC after rounding up a few AFC rumors earlier today:

  • An article from Scott Smith of Buccaneers.com could have been construed to indicate that Buccanneers RB Charles Sims is a long-shot to make the team’s 53-man roster, but Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times says he would be surprised if Sims is cut, especially before Doug Martin returns from suspension in Week 4 (Twitter link). Auman adds (via Twitter) that Smith’s article probably meant to suggest that Blake Sims, not Charles, is a long-shot to make the roster. Indeed, Smith’s piece discusses how well-stocked Tampa Bay is at running back, and he suggests Charles Sims is one of the reasons the Bucs can field a solid RB group even without Martin. Smith later confirmed Auman’s interpretation via Twitter.
  • In addition to running back, the Buccaneers also have intriguing position battles at slot corner, safety, and kicker, as Roy Cummings of FanRagSports.com writes.
  • Rich Tandler of CSNWashington.com examines the long-term outlook for the Redskins, and it’s a fairly promising one, at least on offense. He looks at a possible snapshot of the offense going into training camp in the year 2020, and of the 11 players he mentions — most of whom are good, very good, or at least have a lot of upside — 10 of them are already starters. While it would be foolish to expect all of those players to be in Washington in 2020, the fact remains that the team does have a talented offensive core that has the potential to stay around for a long time.
  • Tandler tweets that there is a slim chance the Redskins and QB Kirk Cousins can work out a multi-year deal by the July 17 deadline, but he confirms what we have known all along, which is that Cousins’ long-term future with the club probably won’t be settled until March 2018.
  • The Cowboys signed Stephen Paea to a one-year, $2MM deal this offseason, and though the big DT struggled the past two years in Washington and Cleveland, Dallas believes he can return to form in 2017. As Brandon George of the Dallas Morning News writes, Paea will be reuniting with Rod Marinelli, whom he worked under during his best years in Chicago, and his skill-set is well-suited to the Cowboys’ 4-3 defense.
  • Paul Perkins will be the Giants‘ starting running back this year, but as James Kratch of NJ.com writes, Perkins will be more of the lead back in a committee rather than a bell-cow. Kratch says Shane Vereen will get his share of carries, and Orleans Darkwa, Wayne Gallman, and Shaun Draughn all figure to be in the mix as well.

Cowboys To Sign Stephen Paea

The Cowboys have agreed to a one-year deal with free agent defensive tackle Stephen Paea, reports Brandon George of the Dallas Morning News (Twitter link).

Stephen Paea

Dallas will be the fifth NFL organization for the 28-year-old Paea, who entered the league as a second-round pick in 2011 and has since played with the Bears, Redskins and Browns. Chicago heavily relied on Paea, who started double-digit games in three of his four seasons with the club, but he served as a reserve in Washington and Cleveland over the past two years. Paea started just one game apiece for those teams, and he’s coming off a 13-appearance, 12-tackle campaign. Despite his less-than-gaudy numbers, he ranked as Pro Football Focus’ 40th-best interior D-lineman among 127 qualifiers in 2016.

As a member of the Cowboys, Paea will attempt to replace the departed Terrell McClain, who signed with NFC East rival Washington on Thursday. Paea is slated to join Cedric Thornton and Maliek Collins as the Cowboys’ top interior options.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Top 2017 Free Agents By Position 2.0: Defense

NFL free agency gets underway on Thursday and while the list of free agents will change between now and then, we do have some idea of who will be available when free agency kicks off. Here is our updated outlook for each defensive and special teams position.

Listed below are our rankings for the top 15 free agents at each defensive position. These rankings aren’t necessarily determined by the value of the contracts – or the amount of guaranteed money – that each player is expected to land in free agency. These are simply the players we like the most at each position, with both short- and long-term value taken into account.

Restricted and exclusive-rights free agents, as well as franchised players aren’t listed here, since the roadblocks in place to hinder another team from actually acquiring most of those players prevent them from being true free agents.

We’ll almost certainly be higher or lower on some free agents than you are, so feel free to weigh in below in our comments section to let us know which players we’ve got wrong.

Here’s our breakdown of the current top 15 free agents by defensive position for this offseason:

Edge defender:

  1. Nick Perry
  2. Jabaal Sheard
  3. John Simon
  4. DeMarcus Ware
  5. Lorenzo Alexander
  6. Andre Branch
  7. Julius Peppers
  8. Charles Johnson
  9. Datone Jones
  10. Dwight Freeney
  11. Chris Long
  12. Mario Williams
  13. Paul Kruger
  14. Courtney Upshaw
  15. Jarvis Jones

Now that Chandler Jones, Melvin Ingram, and Jason Pierre-Paul have all been assigned the franchise tag, Nick Perry stands as the top edge defender on the free agent market, and is now in a position to cash in. The Packers opted against the franchise tender for the 26-year-old Perry, so he’ll hit the open market following a career year which saw him post 11 sacks."<strong

The rest of this year’s crop of free agent pass rushers is a blend of young defenders searching for their first payday and veterans on the hunt for one last contract. Among players with youth still on their side, Datone Jones figures to interest clubs thanks to his versatility, as he can vacillate between end and linebacker, while fellow former first-round pick Jarvis Jones is solid against the run. John Simon has been overlooked while playing alongside the likes of J.J. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney, and Whitney Mercilus but could represent a hidden gem, while the Dolphins are reportedly prioritizing Andre Branch.

After managing nine sacks over the first nine years of his NFL tenure, Lorenzo Alexander busted out with 12.5 quarterback takedowns in 2016, and now could be looking for a double-digit annual salary. Charles Johnson, meanwhile, looks like a good bet to return to the Panthers, but DeMarcus Ware could be something of a wild card — after missing 11 games in the past two seasons, does the 34-year-old have enough left in the tank? The same could be asked of Dwight Freeney, who at age-37 posted three sacks in a rotational role for the Falcons.

Interior defensive line:

  1. Calais Campbell
  2. Johnathan Hankins
  3. Brandon Williams
  4. Dontari Poe
  5. Chris Baker
  6. Bennie Logan
  7. Nick Fairley
  8. Alan Branch
  9. Jared Odrick
  10. Karl Klug
  11. Terrell McClain
  12. Lawrence Guy
  13. Stacy McGee
  14. Stephen Paea
  15. Sylvester Williams
    Honorable mention: Paul Soliai

Calais Campbell is the best overall player among interior defenders, and though he’s entering his age-31 season and may not cost as much as Johnathan Hankins, Brandon Williams, and Dontari Poe, Campbell will still be highly-sought after as he searches for his last substantial payday Campbell’s agent met with the Cardinals last week, but other speculative fits for the veteran defender include the Broncos, Raiders, Ravens, Colts, and Titans."<strong

Hankins is only 24 years old, and though the Giants are trying to retain him along with the rest of their defensive core, the 6’3″, 320-pound mauler should represent an attractive option to a number of clubs this offseason. Williams, too, offers a massive presence on the inside, while Poe could intrigue clubs based on his first-round pedigree and athleticism (though his play hasn’t always matched his potential). The Redskins’ Chris Baker is a solid, well-rounded defensive tackle, and could constitute a consolation prize for teams that miss out on their top targets.

The rest of the class offers an interesting mix of nose tackles (Bennie Logan), interior pass rushers (Nick Fairley, Karl Klug), and run stoppers (Alan Branch), so clubs hoping to bolster their defensive line should find no shortage of options. Jared Odrick recently hit free agency after being released by the Jaguars, while Terrell McClain, Lawrence Guy, and Stacy McGee could be underrated finds for the right team. McClain, for what it’s worth, has already been linked to the Falcons.

Read more

Browns Sign Stephen Paea

Stephen Paea took to Twitter to announce that he is joining up with the Browns. The tweet includes a picture of Paea signing his contract, so the deal appears to be official. Stephen Paea (vertical)

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. God is good. #DAWGPOUND #Cleveland #Browns,” Paea tweeted.

Paea, 28, was cut by the Redskins this week in an effort to save cash and get down to the NFL’s mandated roster maximum. Paea started just one game for Washington in 2015 after getting 40 starts in his previous three years in Chicago. While his part-time role limited his overall numbers (19 tackles, 2.5 sacks), Paea was solid during his time on the field, ranking as Pro Football Focus‘ 45th interior defensive lineman, out of 128 qualified players.

Paea was slated to earn $3.3MM plus bonuses in 2016, a price that was too high for the Redskins. By cutting him, Washington saved a under $1MM against the cap.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Redskins Cut Paea, Riley Jr.

The Redskins have cut both inside linebacker Perry Riley Jr. and defensive end Stephen Paea, a source tells Mike Jones of the Washington Post (on Twitter). The Redskins will save a substantial amount of money against the cap by cutting both players. Stephen Paea (vertical)

Riley was slated to make a little more than $5MM in the coming year while Paea was to make $3.3MM plus bonuses. By getting rid of the duo, the Redskins will save upwards of $5MM in total, though most of that comes from the $4MM saved by dropping Riley.

Paea started just one game for Washington in 2015 after getting 40 starts in his previous three years in Chicago. While his part-time role limited his overall numbers (19 tackles, 2.5 sacks), Paea was solid during his time on the field, ranking as Pro Football Focus‘ 45th interior defensive lineman, out of 128 qualified players. The Redskins decided that they would rather eat most of the money owed to him for the coming season, however.

There wasn’t a place for Riley this year as the Redskins are slated to have Will Compton will start at inside linebacker next to Mason Foster. Riley could have been an effective sub, but not at his rate.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Washington Signs Pierre Thomas; Paea To IR

Washington has officially added veteran running back Pierre Thomas to its roster, the team announced today in a press release. The club has placed defensive tackle Stephen Paea on the injured reserve list in order to create space on the 53-man squad to sign Thomas.

Thomas, who turns 31 next Friday, spent the first eight seasons of his NFL career with the Saints, but saw his 2014 campaign derailed by injuries and by an increasing workload for Mark Ingram, who received many of the carries that would have gone to Thomas in past years. Before he finished the season on injured reserve, Thomas ran for 222 yards on 45 attempts, both career-low totals. He did remain fairly involved in the passing game, however, grabbing 45 balls out of the backfield.

The longtime Saint had a brief stint with the Niners this season, but was released by San Francisco after just one game. In Washington, he’ll likely get a chance to see some snaps on third downs, with running back Chris Thompson battling a torn labrum in his shoulder. Thomas will join a backfield that also features Alfred Morris and rookie Matt Jones.

As for Paea, the former Bear started just one game for Washington this season after getting 40 starts in his previous three years in Chicago. While his part-time role limited his overall numbers (19 tackles, 2.5 sacks), Paea was solid during his time on the field, ranking as Pro Football Focus‘ 45th interior defensive lineman, out of 128 qualified players.

Paea, whose toe injury landed him on IR, is under contract for a $3.3MM salary and a $4.7MM cap hit in 2016, and Washington would create less than $1MM in cap savings by cutting him, so he looks like a good bet to return next year.

Contract Details: Maclin, Thomas, Hughes, Odrick

Here are a few details on some of this week’s noteworthy new contracts:

AFC deals:

  • Jeremy Maclin, WR (Chiefs): Five years, $55MM. $22.5MM fully guaranteed. $12MM signing bonus (Twitter links via Joel Corry of CBSSports.com).
  • Julius Thomas, TE (Jaguars): Five years, $46MM. $21MM fully guaranteed. $28.3MM in first three years (Twitter link via Albert Breer of the NFL Network).
  • Jerry Hughes, DE (Bills): Five years, $45MM base value. $7MM signing bonus. $11.775MM fully guaranteed. $1MM annually in sack-based incentives (Twitter links via Corry and Tom Pelissero of USA Today).
  • Jared Odrick, DL (Jaguars): Five years, $42.5MM. $22.5MM guaranteed. $5MM roster bonus in 2015 (Twitter link via Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun).
  • Brandon Flowers, CB (Chargers): Four years, $36.4MM base value. $20.5MM guaranteed. $8MM signing bonus. $2.25MM first-year cap hit (Twitter link via Wilson).
  • Curtis Lofton, LB (Raiders): Three years, $18MM base value. $10MM guaranteed. $6.5MM in first year, including $3.5MM roster bonus (Twitter links via Pelissero and Wilson).
  • Kendall Langford, DT (Colts): Four years, $17.2MM base value. $2.5MM guaranteed (Twitter link via Mike Garafolo of Fox Sports).
  • Brian Hoyer, QB (Texans): Two years, $10.5MM base value. $3.75MM roster bonus to be paid this month. $5.25MM annual cap hits (Twitter link via John McClain of the Houston Chronicle).
  • A.J. Hawk, LB (Bengals): Two years, $3.25MM base value. $500K guaranteed (Twitter link via Pelissero).

NFC deals:

  • Torrey Smith, WR (49ers): Five years, $40MM base value. $8MM signing bonus. $8.75MM fully guaranteed. $3.6MM first-year cap hit (Twitter links via Corry).
  • Bryan Bulaga, T (Packers): Five years, $33.75MM base value. $8MM signing bonus. $3.6MM first-year cap hit (Twitter links via Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com).
  • Stephen Paea, DT (Washington): Four years, $21MM. $7.85MM guaranteed. $5MM signing bonus (Twitter link via Wilson).
  • Corey Peters, DT (Cardinals): Three years, $9MM base value. $5.75MM guaranteed. $2MM signing bonus (Twitter links via Wilson).
  • Justin Durant, LB (Falcons): Three years, $10.8MM base value. $4.5MM in 2015. $3MM available in incentives (Twitter link via Pelissero).
  • Dwan Edwards, DT (Panthers): Two years, $4MM base value. $1MM signing bonus (Twitter link via Wilson).
  • Sean Weatherspoon, LB (Cardinals): One year, $3.58MM base value. $1.25MM signing bonus (Twitter link via Wilson).
  • Major Wright, S (Buccaneers): Two years, $3MM base value (Twitter link via Pelissero).

Cowboys Interested In Derrick Morgan

Derrick Morgan is in Atlanta meeting with the Falcons, but there’s some serious competition for his services. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter) hears that the Cowboys are now trying to get in on the Titans free agent.

Meanwhile, Todd Archer of ESPN.com (on Twitter) notes that the Cowboys have been reaching out to a lot of players, but they’re only willing to spend so much. For example, they weren’t willing to go to $5MM per year on Stephen Paea. The defensive tackle agreed to sign with Washington on Monday.

The former Georgia Tech standout had his most productive season in 2014, establishing career-highs in tackles (63), sacks (6.5) and passes defended (seven). He received the second-highest rating among Titans defenders from Pro Football Focus, and he also ranked as the eighth-best 3-4 linebacker.

The Titans had reportedly been hoping to re-sign Morgan, but it has been rumored that a half-dozen teams are also interested. He ranked 20th on Luke Adams’ list of the top-50 free agents.