FRISCO, Texas – On the same day Terrell McClain signed with the Washington Redskins, the Cowboys agreed to terms with a replacement at defensive tackle: free agent Stephen Paea.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Paea, 28, appeared in 13 games (one start) with the Cleveland Browns last season, recording 12 tackles and a half-sack. The six-year veteran was originally a second-round pick by the Chicago Bears in 2011. He played his first two seasons for Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli, who held the same title in Chicago then.
After four years with the Bears (2011-14), Paea spent the 2015 season with the Redskins and last season with the Browns. In 79 career games (42 starts) he has posted 125 tackles, 14 sacks and three forced fumbles.
Paea will join Marinelli's Dallas defensive line rotation and help replace McClain, who had a career year in 15 starts for the Cowboys last season: 41 tackles, 2.5 sacks, eight quarterback pressures and two forced fumbles. Also departing Dallas is defensive tackle/end Jack Crawford, who signed with the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday.
Last year's third-round pick, Maliek Collins, and last year's top free-agent signing, Cedric Thornton, are also part of the Cowboys' tweaked defensive tackle rotation. The club has also issued an exclusive rights tender to defensive end/tackle David Irving.