As 4 p.m. struck on Tuesday, a plethora of signings and trades occurred left and right that sent waves through the league.
And while a handful of the moves seemed to make sense for only one of the parties involved, the decision of the Washington Redskins to sign former Bears defensive tackle Stephen Paea to a four-year deal made all the sense in the world.
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The Redskins needed another body in the trenches after they let go of Barry Cofield and Stephen Bowen. And while the Skins added Ricky Jean-Francois, the potential of losing Brian Orakpo meant that Washington needed another formidable lineman to add to the mix.
Stephen Paea is just that.
At 6’1″, 300 pounds, Paea provides a ton of size to clog up running lanes. Last season in Chicago, Paea started all 16 games and proved to be one of the key pieces to Chicago’s defense. He was third on the team in sacks with six, made 33 tackles and forced two fumbles.
His presence is something Washington missed last season, as the Redskins tallied just 36 sacks all season, a number that ranked them 22nd in the league in that category.
Entering his fifth year in the NFL – Paea spent the last four in Chicago after being drafted by the Bears in the second round from Oregon State in 2011 – Paea will have to adjust to a new defensive scheme, as he’s played in a 4-3 each year in Chicago. The Redskins, of course, run a 3-4 defense.
Paea’s value to the Redskins has become even more evident after the first day of free agency.
He’ll be relied upon to stop the run, and with Shane Vereen going to the New York Giants, and rumblings of DeMarco Murray signing with the Eagles and Dallas looking to make a deal for Adrian Peterson, Washington will certainly need a strong defensive line to help slow down opponents on the ground.
The Redskins were already in the top-half of the league last year in rushing defense, giving up 107.6 yards per game on the ground, and adding both Paea and Jean-Francois is another step toward becoming a top-10 run defense.
While the final terms of Paea’s deal have yet to be released, multiple reports show that he’ll be making at least $5 million each season.
As for Orakpo, reports suggest that he is deciding between staying in Washington, or leaving to Arizona or Indianapolis. He is also meeting with the Tennessee Titans tomorrow.