December 19, 2014

Elyria
Cloudy
29°F
test

Browns reach agreement with pass rusher Paul Kruger as free agency opens

The Browns wanted outside linebacker Paul Kruger, and they got him.

And it didn’t take long.

Less than an hour after free agency began at 4 p.m., the Browns and Kruger agreed in principle to a five-year deal that will reportedly be worth $41 million. ESPN first reported the deal and The Chronicle-Telegram confirmed it through a league source.

CBS Sports reported $20 million of the contract is guaranteed.

Kruger spent the first four years of his career with the rival Baltimore Ravens.

Kruger (6-foot-4, 270 pounds) addresses arguably the biggest need for the Browns, who are switching to a 3-4 defensive scheme. He and Detroit’s Cliff Avril were considered the top best pass rushers on the market, and the Browns focused on Kruger.

He had a career-high nine sacks during the 2012 regular season and added 4.5 in the postseason as the Ravens won the Super Bowl. He sacked San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick twice in the Super Bowl last month.

Kruger, 27, didn’t become a starter until 2012 when he opened six games. He has 15.5 career regular-season sacks.

The Browns likely aren’t done in free agency. CEO Joe Banner, in his first year in Cleveland, vowed to be aggressive — and got off to a fast start.

NFL.com reported Cardinals linebacker Quentin Groves will also visit Cleveland. He is 6-3, 265 pounds and will turn 29 in July.

Groves has 6.5 sacks in five seasons with three teams. He had four sacks in seven starts and 16 games in 2012 and could follow defensive coordinator Ray Horton from Arizona.

Other positions of need are cornerback, safety and tight end.

FOLLOW SCOTT PETRAK ON TWITTER.