Free agency is a mere eleven days away, but that doesn't stop us from bringing up the names that could be beneficial if the Cowboys were to look for some veterans. Being a second-round selection from Rod Marinelli's former Bears' defense, Stephen Paea may be on the radar. The Chicago Bears could be in for a makeover on defense now that John Fox will be bringing in his regime.
Paea grew up on the island of Tonga but moved to the states when he was 16. He attended Timpview High School in Provo, Utah. At 240 pounds playing defensive line, he didn't receive much attention from Division I schools and decided to enroll at Snow College in nearby Ephraim. Paea would redshirt his first year at Snow while gaining over 20 pounds and found himself in the eyes of some major programs.
After earning his Associate's Degree, Stephen decided to transfer to Oregon State. There he made an immediate impact for the Beavers. Paea would start 12 games, record 41 tackles, 11 tackles for loss and five sacks. He would be selected to Sporting News All-Sophomore Second-Team and was an honorable mention All-Pac-10 selection. As a junior, Paea would make the All-Pac-10 First Team and win the Morris Trophy for best defensive lineman in the conference. Paea is probably more well known for his bench-pressing abilities which spawned a You Tube video. It was no surprise that Stephen Paea was invited to the Senior Bowl. However, Paea would tear his lateral meniscus and missed the event.
Paea was selected with the 53rd overall pick in 2011's NFL Draft. In his NFL debut, Paea sacked Donovan McNabb in Minnesota's own end-zone resulting in a safety. He would be the first player to do so in their debut since 1970. He would only record two sacks in his rookie year, but had a solid first season playing over 300 snaps.
In 2012, Stephen was promoted to starting defensive tackle and doubled his snap count from the year before. He would record four sacks, 15 solo tackles, 17 quarterback hurries and forced 14 negative plays. Paea was also awarded the Brian Piccolo Award alongside teammate Nick Roach. Paea dealt with a few injuries in 2013 and missed four games throughout the season. He would only register two sacks that season.
This season, Paea returned to form on a very bad defense. He only missed one game this season and definitely made his presence felt. PFF graded him a high +14.4 for 2014, and ranked him 11th overall. Paea had his best season with six sacks, 24 solo tackles, and 31 hurries. After coming off such a good year, it's hard to determine what his value will be on the market. Recent history has been spotty at best with plenty of guys not getting the big payday they expected.
If Paea were still around on the second day of free agency, that could spell good things for the Cowboys chances at getting him. Never underestimate the power of Rod Marinelli, who has helped the Cowboys in the past with guys such as Henry Melton. Does Stephen Paea want to reunite with his old coach?