NFL free agency: Cleveland Browns sign Paul Kruger

Larry French

Paul Kruger is on his way to Cleveland, where he will play a pivotal role as a pass-rusher in Ray Horton's 3-4 defense.

The Cleveland Browns have addressed a major need, signing pass-rusher Paul Kruger, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN and Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun. Kruger is coming off a productive year with the Baltimore Ravens, in which he had nine sacks among 42 tackles during the regular season. He broke loose during the playoffs, picking up 4.5 sacks over four games, including two during the Super Bowl.

The deal is reported to be worth $40 million over a five-year span, roughly $8 million per year. The amount of guaranteed money is unknown at this time.

The Browns had 38 sacks as a team last season, finishing just outside the Top 10 teams in the NFL. With veteran Juqua Parker a free agent after a one-year rental, however, there was an opportunity for a young rushing linebacker to step in and fill his shoes. Kruger came into his own last season, and should fill in nicely opposite Jabaal Sheard in new defensive coordinator Ray Horton's 3-4 scheme.

The Browns still have a lot of room under the salary cap to work with, and plenty of other pressing needs. They will have to come to terms with Brandon Weeden's future with the organization at some point, and could use another body to plug in opposite Joe Haden at cornerback.

For now, however, Browns fans should sleep a little easier knowing that the team's front seven is shaping up to be a better unit in 2013.

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