Veteran edge rusher Paul Kruger has officially signed on to play with the New Orleans Saints this season. After a disappointing release from the Cleveland Browns earlier this week, Kruger quickly found a new team in great need of his rushing skills. Despite the loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Friday, the game just got more interesting for the Saints.
Kruger began his career with the Baltimore Ravens in 2009 after earning a spot in the 2009 NFL Draft. Although the Baltimore Ravens saw his worst season in 2010 with only one tackle and one sack, the team led him to his first Super Bowl victory in 2012. At the Super Bowl XLVIII game, he had two sacks at critical junctures, leading the Ravens to win 34-31. After that game, Kruger made his name as an outside linebacker.
In 2013, he eventually signed with the Cleveland Browns for a five-year, $40 million contract after multiple offers. As one of the starting outside linebackers, he started in all sixteen games of the 2013 seasons. In 2014, Kruger achieved his best career season with 53 tackles, 11 sacks, and four forced fumbles. However, the 2015 season saw a decline in his skills with only 27 tackles and 2.5 sacks. With these numbers in mind, the Cleveland Browns decided to release Kruger from his contract on August 29th, two years before the contract’s date.
Although Kruger himself called the decision “mishandled,” he quickly bounced back with a visit to New Orleans the very next day. There, the New Orleans Saints likely took their opportunity to improve their job of rushing the passer by snagging a professional. In fact, the Saints have been fighting for Kruger to join their team since his move in 2013. Whatever occurred during his visit must have been the tipping point.
Saints coach Sean Payton commented on Kruger following his visit on Tuesday saying “He still affects the passer. You see a pressure player. He rushes with power. I think you see a high motor and a guy that plays extremely strong." Though it’s too early to tell how much Kruger’s addition will affect the team, it’s tough not to be optimistic about a new rusher at this dire moment. For now, Kruger might just look good in black and gold.