The Cleveland Browns today announced they have agreed to terms on a five-year contract with linebacker Paul Kruger, previously an unrestricted free agent from Baltimore.
“We are very excited about the addition of Paul Kruger to our team,” said Browns Head Coach Rob Chudzinski. “He is a talented linebacker who is going to make an immediate impact on our defense. When you put on the film you see physicality, explosive pass rush and a high motor. He has been very productive for the Ravens, and proved it at the highest level last season in the playoffs.”
“Paul is the type of player we were looking to bring on at the outset of free agency, and we are thrilled that we were able to sign him,” said Browns CEO Joe Banner. “Not only do we feel strongly about his ability as a football player, but he will add a great deal from a leadership standpoint as well. He has exhibited marked improvement each year of his career and we believe he can help the Cleveland Browns for many years to come.”
Originally drafted by Baltimore in the second round (57th overall) of the 2009 NFL Draft, Kruger joins the Browns after spending his first four NFL seasons with the Ravens.
During his tenure in Baltimore, Kruger appeared in 51 games with seven starts, registering 70 tackles, 15.5 sacks, two interceptions, 14 passes defensed, one forced fumble and three fumble recoveries. This past season, he set single-season career-highs in tackles (42), sacks (9), passes defensed (6) and forced fumbles (1), while tying a franchise record with at least one sack in five consecutive games during the regular season (totaling 6.5 sacks from games 9 – 13).
Not only did his nine sacks lead the club, but his 7.5 sacks during the final eight weeks of the season tied for fifth in the NFL over this stretch. He also notched 11 tackles for loss, one interception and one fumble recovery on the year.
In postseason play, Kruger led the Ravens with 4.5 sacks to go along with 14 stops, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and one pass defensed. He registered three tackles, including a game-high two sacks, in the Ravens’ Super Bowl XLVII victory over San Francisco.
His two sacks are tied for the third-most in a single-game in Super Bowl history and he became the 21st player to record multiple sacks in a Super Bowl. A two-year letterman as a defensive lineman at the University of Utah (2007-08), Kruger finished his collegiate career with 124 tackles, 10.5 sacks, three forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and two interceptions.
As a redshirt sophomore, he posted 61 tackles, 7.5 sacks, seven passes defensed, two forced fumbles, one interception and one fumble recovery en route to earning an All-Mountain West Conference first-team selection. He was also named All-American honorable mention by both Sports Illustrated and College Football News.
Born on February 15, 1986, the 6-4, 270-pound Kruger is a native of Rexburg, Idaho, who attended Timpanogos High School in Orem, Utah, where he lettered four years as a quarterback. His brothers, Dave and Joe, each played football at the University of Utah.
Their father, Paul, played football at Oregon State where his mother, Jennifer, was a member of the Beavers’ track and field team. Off the field, Kruger founded The Kruger Care Foundation in 2010, which assists individuals and organizations in enriching the lives of children and families who have been devastated by illness, injury and difficult challenges.