CINCINNATI -- Taylor Mays' re-signing with the Cincinnati Bengals had been reported last week, but the Bengals still had paperwork to process and a few other items and had to hold off on making the announcement official until now.
The Bengals formally announced Monday afternoon that Mays had re-signed with the club, joining the Mike Pollak, Brandon Tate and Vincent Rey. A defensive back who was traded to Cincinnati in 2011, Mays officially becomes the fourth 2014 Bengals free agent to stay with the franchise. Defensive end Michael Johnson and offensive tackle Anthony Collins signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last week. Cornerback Brandon Ghee signed with the San Diego Chargers. Center Kyle Cook and linebacker James Harrison also were cut.
After playing in all 16 games in 2012, Mays entered 2013 in a bit of depth-chart limbo. Was he a safety? Was he a linebacker? Was he just an additional cover defender? Coaches weren't too keen on saying what his exact role was.
Originally, then-linebackers coach Paul Guenther claimed Mays as one of his own because of a late-preseason injury to Nickel linebacker Emmanuel Lamur. Head coach Marvin Lewis, though, dismissed that notion and said Mays wasn't a linebacker. In Lewis' eyes, he was simply a defensive back.
With more time train to be a cover linebacker, Mays could line up alongside Lamur during workouts later this year. His combination of size and athleticism make him a logical fit to battle in coverage with tight ends and running backs. Guenther seemed committed to the tweak when he was the Bengals' linebackers coach. Now that he's the defensive coordinator, he may decide to try it out again.
Just when Mays was beginning to find a niche in Cincinnati's defense in the middle of last season, he suffered a season-ending shoulder injury. It came on the final play of the first half of the Bengals' 40-point Week 8 rout of the Jets.
A former Southern Cal standout, Mays was originally drafted in the second round by San Francisco in 2010.
Chris Crocker, the player who joined the Bengals' secondary out of retirement the last two seasons, is the franchise's only remaining free agent defensive back.