Defensive tackle Stephen Paea, who has battled knee injuries since signing a one-year, $2 million contract in March, told the coaches he is retiring, per sources.
It’s a huge setback for the Cowboys defense as he is one of its top run defenders. Paea was credited with seven tackles, including two tackles for loss, and one QB pressure in four games.
Paea, 29, has not practiced the last few weeks in an effort to manage the injury so he could play in games on Sunday.
He played in the first four games but was held out of last Sunday’s game against the Green Bay Packers.
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The season-long toll apparently was too much for Paea to continue, prompting the decision to retire. Brian Price and David Irving have seen time at nose tackle in Paea’s absence.
Paea was signed to replace the departed Terrell McClain at nose tackle and the Cowboys had hoped he could have some success in Dallas because of his relationship with defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli from their days together with the Chicago Bears in 2011-12.
Paea was the second free-agent defender and second projected starter to depart the Cowboys on Wednesday.
Cornerback Nolan Carroll, who signed a three-year, $10 million deal in March to come over from Philadelphia, was released. He gets to keep the $3 million signing bonus.
Carroll was active for only two games with the Cowboys. He missed two games with a concussion and was inactive for last Sunday’s game against the Green Bay Packers because he was passed on the depth chart because the Cowboys liked the upside of rookies Jourdan Lewis and Chido Awuzie to play behind starters Orlando Scandrick and Anthony Brown.