While the Cincinnati Bengals don’t have Rey Maualuga as the number one guy they have to resign before they hit free agency, he’s certainly one of the players they would like to keep for next season, although that might include a position switch.
The four year veteran isn’t as important to the Bengals as Andre Smith and Michael Johnson are to the near future, everyone who has an opinion that matters in the organization, including Marvin Lewis and Defensive Coordinator Mike Zimmer, want to see him stay with the team.
Maualuga began his career with the Bengals as a Strong Side linebacker, but was shifted to the middle during the last couple of seasons, where he hasn’t really excelled. Now, the plan is to keep him, and move him back to his original position. While not looking like an All-Pro kind of player, Maualuga is certainly an asset in the minds of most on the team, and are hoping that his numbers of forced fumbles and tackles for losses will rise once he moves a bit to the outside.
He’s one of the guys you got to get back in the fold. He is, as you will find out when this free agency period starts, a lot better than what a lot of people give him credit for. I think that’s going to be what people are going to find out if he goes. If he’s not here people are going to miss him and say we should have had him. That’s how it works, like Justin Smith.
A second Justin Smith scenario is something the Bengals don’t want to recreate. Smith played 7 seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals before being let go in 2008, moving to the San Francisco 49ers. It didn’t happen overnight, but Smith is regarded as one of the best defensive linemen in the NFL at the moment, after four Pro Bowl selections and a great year, helping the 49ers get to the Super Bowl.
The Bengals’ defense has been the key to reaching two consecutive postseason games in 2011-2012. Fearing what might happen if they start dissolving the package which has worked well so far, keeping Maualuga seems like the smart idea.