Was Re-signing Rey Maualuga the Right Move for the Bengals?


Dec 7, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals middle linebacker Rey Maualuga (58) during warmups prior to the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The Bengals resigned Rey Maualuga to a three-year deal on Thursday according to NFL.com’s Gregg Rosenthal, and as our own David Petrocelli stated in his article about the signing,

"His retention could’ve also been pretty easily assumed once reports came out that fellow linebacker and defensive quarterback Vontaze Burfict had microfracture surgery on his knee this off-season. With his return still undetermined, Rey Maualuga’s leadership and knowledge of the defense also becomes vital."

According to the deal, it is a 3-year contract worth up to $15 million. The deal only ties the Bengals to Maualuga for the 2015 season, as they can release him following the season at no additional penalty.  The question is, was it the right move for the Bengals, or just another loyalty move that could come back to hurt the Bengals in the long run?

Maualuga was the clear choice to take over the leadership role once Vontaze Burfict went down last season. He recorded 59 tackles, including six for a loss, and one interception in 12 games. His contribution was limited due to injury and he did not record a sack or a forced fumble in 2014. With only four sacks during his seven-year career, Maualuga wasn’t expected to produce much by way of pass rush defense.

Although he is stout against the run, Rey Maualuga has always been ineffective against the pass.  The Bengals desperately need help against the pass after finishing 20th in passing yards allowed last season. At this point it has yet to be decided whether the team will address it via free agency or the draft.

Rey Maualuga is a great leader and very knowledgeable, but the Bengals have enough coaches. He will need to be more effective on the field to justify keeping him, even for a reasonable number, which for the front loaded deal that has potential to have little impact on the back end wasn’t so bad. Maualuga is clearly one of Paul Guenther’s guys, who was the Bengals’ linebackers coach prior to being promoted to defensive coordinator prior to 2014. The only problem is that favoritism and friendship must be trumped by making the best moves for the organization. We will have to wait and see if the Bengals made a good move, or if the Bengals were loyal for too long yet again.

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