The Cincinnati Bengals already appear to be losing one of their restricted free agents, with Cleveland's front-loaded offer sheet that Andrew Hawkins had signed (Cincinnati has until Tuesday to match it). The Bengals appear far more determined to keep one of their more productive defensive players, who was similarly tendered as a restricted free agent.
The Cincinnati Bengals announced that they've signed linebacker Vincent Rey to a two-year deal on Saturday.
Rey was free to sign an offer sheet with another team as Hawkins did. It would have been up to the Bengals to match that offer. For the majority of his career, Rey has primarily been used on special teams and in a reserve linebacker role.
"Vinny is a tough guy and a pleasure to coach, and it’s great to have him back in the fold," said head coach Marvin Lewis. "He really helped us in winning the division title last year."
There were never any teams rumored to be showing public interest in Rey, but free agents who have been career backups don't get a lot of run in the first few days of free agency. Especially restricted free agents. The Minnesota Vikings were candidates due to Cincinnati's former defensive coordinator, Mike Zimmer, now Minnesota's head coach.
Coming into 2013, Rey had started just one game in his four years as a weakside linebacker. It appeared at one point that he was typecast as a career backup. After Rey Maualuga was knocked out at midseason with a sprained MCL, Rey took advantage of the opportunity with a three-sack and interception performance against the Baltimore Ravens.
Rey (6-0, 250; Duke) is a fourth-year NFL player heading into 2014. He has been with the Bengals since entering the NFL as a college free agent in 2010. He has increased his role with the team in each of his seasons, and last season he played a key role on Cincinnati’s third-ranked NFL defense, contributing 54 tackles, four sacks, two interceptions, four passes defensed a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
Last season, in a Game 15 win vs. Minnesota that with other results clinched the AFC North title for the Bengals, Rey had a sack, a forced fumble and an interception returned for a touchdown. In Game 10, at Baltimore, he became the only player in Bengals history with three sacks and an interception in the same game. Rey has played every game the last three seasons, including each postseason game dating back to 2011. Last season he had three starts, in place of injured Rey Maualuga.