CLEVELAND -- Sometimes, it is nice to be wanted.
And wanted is exactly how new Cleveland Browns defensive lineman Stephen Paea felt when he was signed by the AFC North Division team after being waived by Washington prior to their final preseason game.
“It is good when you go to a team that wants you, wants you to play for them,” Paea said recently. “I will be here rotating in and I’m trying to help the team. I’m happy. My family is happy about it.”
A second-round pick of the Chicago Bears in the 2012 NFL Draft out of the University of Oregon, Paea spent the first four years of his professional career in The Windy City. Paea made 40 starts and played in 55 games for the Bears over those four years, totaling 12 sacks, including a personal-best six during the 2014 season.
After finishing his time in Chicago, Paea went to Washington, where in 11 games, he registered 19 tackles and 1.5 sacks in 2015.
Despite being new to Cleveland, Paea is the Browns’ most-tenured NFL lineman, as John Hughes is the only other lineman that has more than one year of service as a professional. Hughes is currently in his fifth NFL season out of the University of Cincinnati.
“I use my strength,” said Paea, who once set the NFL Scouting Combine’s bench press record. “Obviously, it is my sixth year going into the league and I’m going to use my experience. That is going to be quite an advantage for me helping these young boys.
“I didn’t know that I was the oldest on the D-line until I started looking around. That is the first time in my career. I have to step up and be a leader there in the D-line room, not just vocally but as far as helping the young boys out.”