If the NFL career of Aaron Maybin didn't work out as a defensive end, or as a pass rushing outside linebacker in a base 3-4 scheme, then why keep repeating the same thing? That's the thinking with Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis, whose team signed Maybin to a Reserve/Futures contract on Friday.
According to Joe Reedy with the Cincinnati Enquirer and Geoff Hobson with Bengals.com, Maybin will be placed at strong-side linebacker and rush the passer on third downs. Writes Reedy:
In terms of where he would fit on the defense, it would be as a SAM linebacker with an opportunity to rush from the edge on third down. SAM figures to be the one area where the Bengals could make a couple moves. Manny Lawson is an unrestricted free agent but Emmanuel Lamur also saw some time there last season.
Writes Geoff Hobson:
Maybin is excited because he's been told the Bengals are going to line him up at SAM backer and bring him down to rush off the edge in passing situations. It's a position he never played with any kind of regularity in his stints with the Bills and Jets and it's one that he thinks will show he's more versatile than conventional wisdom that says he's undersized and can only rush the passer.
Manny Lawson, who has been the team's primary strong-side linebacker over the past two seasons, becomes an undrafted free agent in early March. Figure that Maybin will be placed in situation with heavy competition during training camp, with possibily Emmanual Lamur and at least one draft pick in late April. And that's provided Lawson doesn't return this year.
Thomas Howard, the team's primary weakside linebacker prior to his season-ending injury in September, also an unrestricted free agent, figures to be one of the leading free agent priorities among the team's linebackers entering free agency this year.
Yet it may all depend on Rey Maualuga and if the team sees any future in Cincinnati. If he returns next year as the starting middle linebacker, Vontaze Burfict remains on the outside, obviously limiting Maybin's opportunities.