The Cincinnati Bengals have re-signed veteran linebacker Rey Maualuga, according to Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com.
The details of the contract are not yet official, but Albert Breer of the NFL Network is reporting the length and financial parameters:
Maualuga is entering his fifth year in the NFL—he started 29 games over the last two seasons—and had his best statistical season in 2012 after not missing a game. The former USC Trojan amassed 122 combined tackles and a sack.
Cincinnati will be looking for Maualuga to use his experience and leadership to keep the young group of linebackers playing well and working as a unit.
Alongside 2012 rookie Vontaze Burfict—as well as the other linebackers in the mix, from Emmanuel Lamur and Brandon Joiner to newly signed Aaron Maybin—Maualuga will have to work with the Bengals as the roles change, but must remain the linchpin of the defense.
Cincinnati linebackers coach Paul Guenther told the team’s website about what Maualuga brings to the defense that made this deal smart for the Bengals:
Rey is a big, physical guy who plays with a lot of passion and energy. He knows the defense and he can play a couple of different spots, and that's going to give us some flexibility as well as some experience in our room.
According to Hobson, there is a feeling around the organization that with Burfict’s success at middle linebacker (127 tackles), Maualuga would be a better fit at the SAM linebacker position.
The ability to come downhill at a ball-carrier is Maualuga's biggest strength, so the move away from the middle is a smart transition for the future of the franchise. If the veteran blossoms at SAM, the Bengals will look brilliant for the transition.
No matter where he plays on the field, though, re-signing Maualuga was the smart move for Cincinnati.