CLEVELAND — The Browns added some beef to their defensive line while they considered cuts to their roster.
Cleveland signed defensive lineman Stephen Paea, a 2011 second-round pick released earlier this week by the Washington Redskins. The 6-foot-1, 310-pound Paea gives the Browns some depth and versatility up front.
With Desmond Bryant done for the season with a chest injury and Armonty Bryant scheduled to miss four games with a drug suspension, the Browns were in the market for line help. Paea is a solid pickup.
Before the Browns announced his signing, Paea posted a picture on Twitter of him signing his new contract with the caption: “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”
Browns coach Hue Jackson said the 28-year-old Paea can line up directly over center or in a four-man front.
“He can play in a 3-4, and he has played in some 3-4 in Washington,” Jackson said on a teleconference Friday. “He played in some 4-3 before. He is versatile that way. He can play in any system that we play in.”
Cleveland’s defense has struggled during the preseason and Jackson made it clear he’s willing to experiment and try different formations. Nothing is set in stone.
“We will do whatever we think it takes to win football games,” he said. “The most important thing now is about game planning to give our players the best chance to have success in games and have opportunities to win games.”
To make room for Paea, the team waived running back Rajion Neal, who suffered a quadriceps injury in Thursday’s 21-7 loss to Chicago.
The Browns finished the exhibition season 0-4, only the third time in franchise history the team has gone winless in the preseason. Jackson knows there’s work to be done before the Sept. 11 season opener at Philadelphia, and the coaching staff and front office members met Friday to discuss roster moves.
The NFL requires teams be down to 53 players by Saturday, and one of the most interesting decisions could be with cornerback Justin Gilbert. A first-round draft pick in 2014, Gilbert has been a major disappointment with Cleveland. The former Oklahoma State standout has made just three starts in two seasons and shown little to justify his selection with the No. 8 overall pick — by the Browns’ previous regime.
Gilbert is currently in concussion protocol after sustaining a head injury last week in Tampa. But Jackson said the 24-year-old’s roster spot is not a given.
“Justin did some things better (this summer),” Jackson said. “Everything has an opportunity to be evaluated, everything that every player has done. Our goal and our job is to make sure that we keep the best players here. Do I think he has improved? Yeah. Are we going to sit down and evaluate and talk through every opportunity that a young man has had and we can see where they fit for our football team? We are going to do that, also.”