I swear. A few hours ago, I stepped away from the computer thinking to myself, "Rey Maualuga won't sign while I'm gone." Less then an hour later, the Bengals agreed to terms with Maualuga. The agent for the outside linebacker confirmed it. Pro Football Talk writes that "Maualuga received $2.84 million in guaranteed money. The deal carries a total value of $4.66 million."
Maualuga is the ninth rookie signed, all four year contracts. Defensive End (and potential tweener -- not related to Twitter) Michael Johnson and Offensive Tackle Andre Smith remain unsigned.
Maualuga is listed as the team's backup strong-side linebacker behind Rashad Jeanty. Someone made the point earlier, wondering if Maualuga is going to be a backup player anyway, why not just make him the backup inside linebacker. I have arguments that it makes more sense keeping him where he is for the time being.
Rashad Jeanty is under a one-year contract because he's a restricted free agent. Grooming Maualuga as a probable long-term replacement makes sense, considering that Dhani Jones is signed through 2010. And if Jones continues to have solid seasons this and next year, then there's a good chance the Bengals sign him again, while finding themselves another middle linebacker to groom in later drafts. Another reason is that Maualuga is more likely to unseat Jeanty than Jones this year.
But let's face it. Starting or not, it doesn't equate to less snaps. Jeanty and Maualuga will likely rotate based on packages and both will get plenty of playing time.