Paul Kruger agrees to deal with Saints after release by Browns

METAIRIE, La. -- Paul Kruger didn't last long on the open market.

The New Orleans Saints have agreed to a deal with the veteran pass-rusher, just two days after he was released by the Cleveland Browns. The agreement was first reported by NFL Network and confirmed by ESPN.

Kruger agreed to a one-year, $3 million deal that could reach $5 million with incentives, a source told ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Kruger, 30, makes perfect sense for the Saints because an edge rusher ranked among their most glaring needs even before they lost projected starter Hau'oli Kikaha to a knee injury this summer. The Saints also made a strong push to sign Kruger in 2013 before he signed his blockbuster five-year, $40.5 million contract with the Browns.

"He still affects the passer. You see a pressure player. He rushes with power," Saints coach Sean Payton said of Kruger on Tuesday. "I think you see a high motor and a guy that plays extremely strong."

Kruger was deemed expendable in Cleveland because the Browns are in a long-term rebuilding mode and he was slated for more of a part-time role in 2016 under a new coaching staff.

The 6-foot-4, 270-pounder had a solid three-year run as an outside linebacker in Cleveland, but his performance arguably didn't live up to his contract. He had 4.5 sacks in 2013, 11 in 2014 and 2.5 in 2015 -- with his numbers suffering from moving from the strong side to the weak side.

Kruger will play defensive end in New Orleans' 4-3 scheme.

Kruger wound up making $27 million in three seasons in Cleveland, and he expressed his frustration with his release on social media Monday:

"My experience has been amazing and I will miss wearing a Browns #99," Kruger wrote. "Although completely miss handled, unfortunate and absolutely the wrong decision to release me I do wish the Browns and especially my teammate brothers great success."

Kruger's peak season came in 2012 with the Baltimore Ravens, when he had nine sacks in the regular season and 4.5 more in the postseason -- including two in Baltimore's Super Bowl win.

Third-year pro Kasim Edebali is currently penciled in as the Saints' starting weakside end opposite Pro Bowler Cameron Jordan on the strong side. Edebali has shown promise, with five sacks last year and two more in this year's preseason opener at New England.

But the pass rush was less effective in the past two preseason games, and Payton labeled it as a "very concerning" area after last week's loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Kruger was also scheduled to visit with the Kansas City Chiefs, according to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter. But New Orleans locked him up before he had the chance.