Top free agents in the division: No. 16

Free agency officially begins March 12, so the AFC North blog is counting down the 20 best free agents (unrestricted and restricted) from the teams in the division. Let's continue with No. 16 ...


Bengals linebacker

Status: Unrestricted free agent

The good: Maualuga has the all the physical skills you want in a run defender. He is big, athletic and strong. One scout told me last year that he would take Maualuga over any other inside linebacker in the division. Plus, he just turned 26, so he has several years left in him.

The bad: He often presses too much to live up to expectations. Some believe this past season, his worst in the NFL, was the result of being a contract year. His lack of speed makes him a liability in pass coverage. That showed up in the playoff loss at Houston.

The bottom line: There's been conflicting reports on where Maualuga fits in the Bengals' plans. Hours after one report said it was unlikely that the Bengals would re-sign Maualuga, another said the team was thinking of bringing him back as an outside linebacker. This is a situation where a change of scenery would help Maualuga. If the Ravens are unable to retain Dannell Ellerbe, Baltimore might consider Maualuga.