Countdown to The Draft
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By Tony Grossi
The first free agent signed in the Jimmy Haslam-Joe Banner-Mike Lombardi era is former Baltimore pass rusher Paul Kruger.
Kruger agreed to a contract shortly after the NFL free agent signing period kicked off at 4 p.m. Tuesday.
The deal is believed to be for five years at roughly $40 million, according to reports. Kruger made $615,000 in the last year of his original four-year deal with Baltimore last year.
Kruger, 27, will be one of the cornerstone pass rushers in coordinator Ray Horton’s 3-4, “multi-front” defensive scheme.
In his first year of extended play time in four NFL seasons, Kruger led the Ravens with nine sacks in the regular season. He added 4.5 in four postseason games, helping the Ravens to the Super Bowl championship. Kruger had two sacks of San Francisco QB Colin Kaepernick in their 34-31 Super Bowl win.
Kruger was a liability against the run, however, and made only five starts in 15 games active last year. He started both at defensive end and outside linebacker. It's likely he would have the same versatile role in Horton's defense.
The Browns are hoping that Kruger bucks the trend of recent Baltimore defensive players who left the Ravens' roost and underperformed after getting the big bucks elsewhere. That list includes linebacker Adalius Thomas, defensive lineman Lionel Dalton, linebacker Ed Hartwell, linebacker Bart Scott, linebacker Jarret Johnson, cornerback Duane Starks, cornerback Gary Baxter and linebacker Jamie Sharper. Baxter was a Browns' free agent signee in 2005.
Kruger was a second-round draft pick of Baltimore in 2009. That year, the Browns had three picks in the second round and used them on receiver Brian Robiskie (36th overall), receiver Mohamed Massaquoi (50th) and linebacker David Veikune (52nd). Kruger was picked 57th overall by Baltimore. Robiskie and Veikune left the Browns years ago. Massaquoi is a free agent and is not expected to return.
|Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com. |
He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 46 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Email your “Hey Tony” questions to firstname.lastname@example.orgFollow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi
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