Kevin Minter tackling A.J. Green
Rey asleep during defensive meetings

The Cincinnati Bengals agreed in principle to sign unrestricted free-agent linebacker Kevin Minter. Minter was a guy I mentioned on my podcast months ago that could end up being an option for the Bengals. At 6-0 246 lbs, Minter has the size to play at all three linebacker spots for the Bengals. Geoff Hobson reported that Minter would likely play inside and/or outside linebacker for the Bengals. He also said that Nick Vigil will have every opportunity to start at strong-side linebacker. This could spell the end for Rey Maualuga for several reasons.

Minter is expected to sign a 1-year deal worth up $4.5 million dollars. This average salary would be similar to that of Maualuga’s salary at $5 million. Also, Maualuga’s contract for this year has $0 in dead money and could save the Bengals $3.6 million by cutting him. This is money that could be used for Minter’s deal instead.

Rey Maualuga only played 29% of the snaps for the Bengals during the 2016 season since they primarily played in the nickel defense. The Bengals’ front office has also stated that they want to get “younger and faster” at the linebacker position. Reading between the lines, Maualuga doesn’t seem to be a part of their future plans.

With Vontaze Burfict starting at weak-side linebacker and Nick Vigil at strong-side, it would be safe to assume Minter could replace Maualuga in the middle. The Bengals also use the nickel package the majority of last season which would be conducive to Minter’s skill set. This is why Rey barely played last year.

I’ve heard from a source a couple of months ago that the Bengals’ staff was exploring moving Maualuga to strong-side linebacker but may have decided against that move since Vigil is projected to start there. Some fans also assumed Minter was an answer to Rueben Foster. I believe Minter wouldn’t affect the Foster pick especially if Maualuga is cut. I also believe Vigil wouldn’t stop them from picking Foster who has the size to play all three spots. With all factors considered, Rey Maualuga could soon find himself outside of Cincinnati once Minter signs.

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