Surprisingly, there may be a quality free agent coming from the Chicago Bears’ porous defense.
Dec 15, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears defensive tackle Stephen Paea (92) warms up prior to a game against the New Orleans Saints at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Stephen Paea will be a fifth-year tackle in 2015. At 6’1″, 300 pounds, his frame resembles that of Atkins. The squatty frame allows these smaller tackles to gain leverage against their opposing, often taller, offensive linemen, which hopefully results in a collapsing pocket.
This past year was Paea’s best from a statistical standpoint. He finished the year with 6.0 sacks, two FFs, and four stuffs. This while participating in over two-thirds of the Bears’ defensive snaps (67.1% to be exact). This performance earned him a +14.4 grade per Pro Football Focus, which is the second best amongst free agent defensive tackles.
Like Fairley, Paea comes from the Bears’ system where they employ a 4-3 defense, so the Bengals’ defensive scheme won’t be completely foreign to him. Luckily for the Bengals, Paea’s retention may be less likely considering the Bears’ investment in tackles this past season. It doesn’t mean they won’t want him, but after adding Will Sutton and Ego Ferguson in 2014, they may not place a high priority on him.
If the Bengals want to grab the former second round selection, they just may be able to do so. Paea could be a steal at the right price, and with the Bears in “rebuild” mode, Paea may be able at a reasonable price.