One of the more controversial figures among the Cincinnati Bengals for much of his career has been Rey Maualuga.
From the moment the star linebacker was drafted out of USC in 2009, Maualuga was viewed as the future in the middle of the Bengals' defense. He spent his first two seasons at outside backer, where he was very productive while playing alongside Dhani Jones in the middle.
Once Jones was let go, Maualuga became the man in the middle, but for the most part, he's shown mixed results that were more often of the negative variety.
From 2011-13, Maualuga ranked among Pro Football Focus' worst middle linebackers, and any fan who just watched him play could tell he wasn't suited for the role in which Cincinnati had placed him.
Despite his struggle, the Bengals brought him back on a two-year deal in 2013, and after another poor season in '13, Maualuga had a decent year in 2014, finishing with a -0.1 grade from PFF, ranking him 27th out of 60 middle backers who played in at least 25% of their teams' snaps.
Now he's a free agent again, and it looks like the Bengals want to re-sign him.
My take: If you're basing the decision primarily off his play from this past year, plus the fact that Vontaze Burfict is questionable at best for the start of the 2015 season, it seems like a no-brainer that Maualuga should be brought back. Despite getting little help from his defensive line in both run defense and rushing the passer, Maualuga had a decent-enough year that he deserves to be brought back.
Maualuga needs to be brought back, and I believe Cincinnati ultimately will re-sign him. However, there are several linebackers I do want to see the Bengals pursue in free agency or in the draft to at least push Maualuga for snaps next year.
What do you think?