The 2012 Bengals were the weakest on defense in the secondary and at linebacker. While Vontaze Burfict played extremely well, both Rey Maualuga and Manny Lawson struggled. This offseason, the Bengals re-signed Maualuga and they brought in free agent linebacker James Harrison. They also lost a couple players, including Lawson and Dan Skuta, and they haven't re-signed Thomas Howard. The linebacker position, especially when it comes to the players that aren't starting, is going to look pretty different in 2013.
Let's say, for the purposes of this article, that the only players that are locks right now, are the projected starters:
Vontaze Burfict (WILL), Rey Maualuga (MIKE), James Harrison (SAM)
Lamur has reportedly been getting a lot of work on the field, especially when the Bengals are in nickel, which they are most of the time. He has also reportedly impressed teammates and coaches with the weight he's put on while being able to retain his speed. Lamur is probably about as close to a lock as we can get.
Moch had a lot of promise as a pass rusher coming out of Nevada, but injuries and a rumored migraine problem stemming from allergy troubles have kept him off the field. There's a decent chance that Moch could struggle to make the team.
Rey was on the active roster in 2012 and started one game at WILL. He made 18 tackles, including one sack, and trailed only Skuta in special teams tackles. He has a lot of special teams value and he knows Mike Zimmer's system, but that may not be enough.
Porter was the Bengals' fourth-round pick and seems to have the ability to back up more than one linebacker position. He started 41 of 52 games, most at strong side linebacker, at Texas A&M, making 261 tackles and 14.5 sacks.
Joiner was signed as an unrestricted free agent in 2012, but missed the entire season due to off-field issues. He was signed to the 2013 offseason roster and should compete for a spot.
Maybin, a former first-round pick, was signed this offseason before the new league year began. Considered a bust, Maybin is a long shot to make the team now that James Harrison has been signed.
With Harrison, Maualuga and Burfict as locks to make the team, the rest of these players are fighting for three to five spots. The Bengals have kept between six and eight linebackers through the past few years. How many they keep in 2013 will depend on how many they keep at other positions.
Which of these players do you think will make the final cut?