The offseason question of whether the Cincinnati Bengals really did want Rey Maualuga to come back was answered Monday morning, when the team re-signed the veteran linebacker to a two-year, $6.5 million deal, according to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.
Now the question is where will Maualuga line up in 2013?
Maualuga spent his first two seasons at outside linebacker before starting the past two at middle linebacker. Last season, Maualuga was ranked the worst inside linebacker by Pro Football Focus. He missed 16 tackles, tied for fifth most for NFL inside linebackers, and committed six penalties, which was the second highest.
The speculation has been that the Bengals would move promising linebacker Vontaze Burfict inside and put Maualuga back to strongside linebacker.
This isn't a bad deal for the Bengals, who didn't break the bank to keep him. Coach Marvin Lewis obviously believes in Maualuga's leadership. That's why he named him and quarterback Andy Dalton team captains last year. And, even though Maualuga struggled last season, he could be in line for a rebound season. Maualuga is better suited to play on the outside and he may have been pressing too much in a contract season.
The Bengals have signed six players this offseason, and all six have been their own free agents. Cincinnati still has to find another starting outside linebacker and there is a chance that it could re-sign Thomas Howard.