Cincinnati Bengals Sign LB Rey Maualuga

Kyle BattleCorrespondent IMarch 18, 2013

CINCINNATI, OH - NOVEMBER 04:  Rey Maualuga #58 of the Cincinnati Bengals stretches before the NFL game against the Denver Broncos at Paul Brown Stadium on November 4, 2012 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The Cincinnati Enquirer's Joe Reedy tweeted this morning that the Cincinnati Bengals have agreed to terms with linebacker Rey Maualuga:

With a focus on improving internally first, the Bengals have been able to bring back several players from last year's playoff team. Maualuga was likely the most criticized player on the Bengals defense last year—and heading into free agency, even he wasn't sure if he'd be asked back. 

Maualuga visited the Cardinals, but their intentions were made clear when they signed linebackers Jasper Brinkley and Lorenzo Alexander. 

Even though Maualuga led the team in tackles in 2012 with 122, he was often exposed in pass coverage and didn't show the speed to recover when he made mistakes. The Wild Card Game against the Texans was a particularly bad one for Maualuga, so bad that he thought he had sealed his fate. 

"I felt as if the (wild-card loss to the Houston Texans) was sort of like, if I perform well they would want me. I don't know if they want me, but I do know I didn't perform well," he said.

It seems that he did perform well enough; head coach Marvin Lewis came out and spoke in Maualuga's favor, and now it's official: Maualuga is still a Bengal.

This signing shouldn't change the fact that Vontaze Burfict is expected to move to inside linebacker.

This signing does, however, add another element to the debate as to whether or not it's smart for the Bengals to draft a linebacker with their first pick. The stronger need was at outside linebacker, with Manny Lawson leaving.

That has all changed now.