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2014 Free Agency: Taylor Mays expected to return to the Cincinnati Bengals

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Thanks to an injury at linebacker during the preseason in 2013, Mays found a niche on Cincinnati's defense that alluded him. Now the Bengals are interested in bringing Mays back.

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

There's a feeling that the Cincinnati Bengals have enough interest with safety (and hybrid linebacker) Taylor Mays, that the two sides will strike a deal to keep the former second-rounder in Cincinnati for 2014 (if not beyond).

During his defensive backs review, Paul Dehner Jr., with the Cincinnati Enquirer writes, "Expectations are a deal will be struck with Mays." Geoff Hobson with Bengals.com adds that the Bengals have an interest in "re-signing their own backups," specifically naming Mays.

The Bengals acquired Mays from San Francisco in a trade on August 23, 2011 for a seventh-round draft pick in the 2013 NFL draft. After missing a handful of games in 2011 with a preseason knee injury, he played 10 games that year, then a full-16 game schedule (with three starts) in 2012.

Perceived as a bubble player during training camp in 2013 due to his coverage issues in the preceding seasons, Mays, with the brilliant help of Paul Guenther (former linebackers coach and current defensive coordinator) as a hybrid linebacker when WILL linebacker Emmanuel Lamur was sidelined with a season-ending shoulder injury in the preseason finale.

Because Mays was mostly working linebackers and running backs in coverage, his opposing quarterback rating improved by over 70 points (155 in '12, 84 in '13). Prior to suffering a season-ending dislocated shoulder against the New York Jets, Mays generated 21 tackles, two passes defensed, two special teams tackles and a special teams fumble recovery.