As the NFL free agent period begins to wear on, the Bengals face many unresolved questions. Among the developments to date, they have signed ML Rey Maualuga and made a strong move on special teams and D-Line. On the other hand, they have lost back-up QB, Brad Gradkowski to the Steelers as well as linebackers Manny Lawson and Dan Skuta.
December 2, 2012; San Diego, CA, USA; Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Rey Maualuga (58) after a 20-13 win against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
At Linebacker, after four years with the team, Maualuga signed a two year deal. In addition, the 2013 defense will include standouts Michael Johnson and Vontaze Burfict as well as Robert Geathers and Wallace Gilberry. So while the situation at linebacker may be clearer, it allows for only organic improvement from a corp that struggled in 2012. Coach Lewis praises Maualuga for his “growth” and “passion.” Still looking for a playoff win, Bengals fans are justifiably more skeptical.
At backup QB, behind rising third year starter, Andy Dalton, the Bengals will not have Ryan Fitzpatrick who signed with the Titans replacing Matt Hasselback as Tennessee’s number two quarterback. And it seems that the Bengals will pass on 37 year old Hasselback as well, given his age.
Outstading free agent issues remain with cornerbacks Adam Jones and Terence Newmen, both solid veterans. The younger, Jones, is a fan favorite on returns. Reports have Newman deciding between Oakland and Cincinnati this week.