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Free agency: Should the Bengals re-sign Rey Maualuga

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We're taking a look at the Cincinnati Bengals list of free agents heading into 2015 and asking, whether or not each should be re-signed. We opened discussions with Terence Newman, who is contemplating retirement. Now we're focusing on Rey Maualuga.

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The Bengals should sign Rey Maualuga:

Despite the high expectations that have followed Maualuga since the 2009 NFL draft, the team's long-time starting linebacker has been as much a foundation piece as anyone. Since 2009, the Bengals have featured a top-seven defense in four of those seasons -- all with Maualuga starting at linebacker. We're not saying that Maualuga is the reason, but he has been as responsible as anyone.

Not that you really have any responsibility as the team's accountant or capologist, or, risk money as the team's owner, but Maualuga comes with a relatively cheap price tag. He signed a two-year deal worth $6.5 million in 2013, completing the final year of that deal this season. It would be silly to expect him to sign for less (would you?) but it would be equally as ridiculous to expect much of a raise.

Here's another perspective: Maualuga missed four games this year (Weeks 7-10) with a severe hamstring injury. There's a noticeable difference:

Untitled Document
W/ MAUALUGA W/O MAUALUGA
TOTAL YARDS 351.3 383.3
RUSHING 106.8 145
POINTS 20.5 24.5

Pro Football Focus graded Maualuga's season as his best with an overall score of -1.0 and a run defense score of 0.6. Compare that to last season, his first as a two-down linebacker, when he generated an overall score of -7.9.

Maualuga had a pretty good season...

The Bengals shouldn't resign Rey Maualuga:

...if you compare that to his previous seasons. And honestly... how many times are the Bengals going to re-sign the same players hoping for different results?

Despite the outward appearance that he improved in 2014, Maualuga STILL led the team with 14 missed tackles -- and that's with only 452 snaps played. Of the 12 regular season games played, Maualuga had (5) multiple missed tackles. As a run stopper, he generated a tackle efficiency average (number of attempted tackles per each missed tackle) of 5.9, which ranks 65th-best among 70 qualified inside linebackers.

And in coverage, the same complicated liability applied in 2014. Maualuga secured a cover snap/reception ratio of 7.2 in the NFL, which also ranked 56th-best among 57 qualified linebackers. Opposing players caught 73.7 percent of the passes that targeted Maualuga's assignment with an opposing quarterback rating of 90.1.

You mean to tell me that the Bengals can't find someone better in the draft, a college free agent, or in free agency this March?