INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 03: Professional football player Rey Maualuga attends ESPN The Magazine's "NEXT" Event on February 3, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Robin Marchant/Getty Images for ESPN)
+ Bengals starting middle linebacker Rey Maualuga pled not guilty to misdemeanor assault on Friday after the owner of a downtown bar named Luxe claimed that the linebacker punched him. Already with one strike against him in regards to the Personal Conduct Policy, Maualuga could face a multiple-game suspension. Cincinnati's 2009 NFL Draft pick out of USC is entering the final year under contract and unless he shows significant improvement, we're not exactly sure if this team will make an effort to extend Maualuga beyond his rookie deal.
It would seem that Cincinnati is playing to the tune of old ghosts, with eight off-the-field incidents that's resulted in charges dating back to January 2010, the Tennessee Titans lead the league nine arrests. But eight teams have generated at least six incidents since then, hardly making Cincinnati exclusive to the demeaning caricatures from six years ago.
Sure the number is a little unsettling, but consider that Maualuga and Cedric Benson account for half of the team's off-the-field incidents. Jerome Simpson isn't likely returning (mostly performance-based) and Adam Jones and Benson could face the same destiny. Maurice Purify and Marvin White have long left the team, though their ghosts remain for the simplicity of this trivial discussion.
There's another caveat. It's the stop-gap roll players that are finding themselves in trouble, guys that the Bengals signed off the street to fill a roll. Cedric Benson was signed in 2008 because Chris Perry was an ineffectual feature back with a propensity to fumble (discuss amongst yourselves the irony of that statement today). No one wanted Benson's baggage and the Bengals signed him to replace Perry. Adam Jones was signed to provide the team depth at cornerback, behind Leon Hall and Johnathan Joseph, a position with severe depth deficiency.
Some would argue that Maualuga is a foundation component, a core player for this top-ten defense. Various perspectives might argue the truth in that view and who are we to counter. But in reality his age and lack of competition at his positions, played a key roll in expanding him into such discussions -- not his overall performance.
Those foundation guys, core players expected to push Cincinnati into an era of greatness? They have nothing to do with this.