Today, the Cincinnati Bengals came to an agreement with Rey Maualuga, to keep him in Ohio for two more years. Although there have been some issues with his performance over the last few seasons, it was still a good choice by the Bengals.
Maualuga played at SAM (outside linebacker) when he was drafted in 2009 and when Dhani Jones left the Bengals, everyone thought that it would be a good decision for him to slide inside to the MIKE (middle linebacker) spot. Unfortunately, this has not panned out for Maualuga and the Bengals and although he recorded the team’s second highest – 122 total tackles last season, he had many problems with the pass and was often exposed when the ball was thrown his way. He has also had some issues with his speed in the last few seasons and this has affected the way he played at the position.
Last season, Pro Football Focus ranked Maualuga as the worst middle linebacker in the NFL and when he was at his original position on the strong-side, he was ranked 14th. It would make proper sense for him to move back out to his old position and move Vontaze Burfict into the MIKE linebacker spot. The Bengals had intended to do that with Burfict regardless of the situation with Mauluga, as Burfict had an outstanding season in 2012 with 127 total tackles, one sack and two fumbles recovered. It will also be good for the Bengals to have Maualuga back with them as the consensus was that the Bengals would need to draft a linebacker to replace him. And in order to get a decent one like Alec Ogletree, they would need to use a first round draft pick. Now that they have that sorted, it’s likely that they will be able to use their first round pick on someone like Safety Matt Elam.
With a $6.5 million two-year contract signed and with him sliding back out to the strong-side, the team hopes he will excel as he did in the 2009 and 2010 seasons. With 143 tackles over his two seasons at SAM and moving back out to that position once more, Mauluga should be back to his old self. This was a good decision made by the Bengals, a decision we should see the benefits from during the new season.
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