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Breaking down linebacker Vincent Rey's contract with Bengals

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One of the major signings the Cincinnati Bengals made within the first 48 hours of free agency was with linebacker Vincent Rey. The details have emerged on his new three-year, $10.5 million contract.

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We knew all along that the Bengals' major focus of 2016 free agency would be about retaining some of their own key pieces. They have been able to re-sign four of their 13 unrestricted free agents, with three being on the defensive side of the ball.

One of those three contracts was to Vincent Rey, a versatile, coachable player, who the Bengals use at most linebacker spots and on special teams. Rey's contract is the most recent signing by the Bengals in free agency, and The Cincinnati Enquirer initially reported his contract being a three-year one, somewhere in the range of $10-$11 million. The full details have emerged on the deal, and here is the breakdown of it, via Spotrac:

Year Age Base Salary Signing Bonus Roster Bonus Workout Bonus Cap Hit Dead Cap
2016 28 $1,000,000 N/A $3,200,000 $300,000 $4,500,000 $3,000,000
2017 29 $2,250,000 N/A $700,000 $300,000 $3,250,000 N/A
2018 30 $2,250,000 N/A $200,000 $300,000 $2,750,000 N/A
2019 31 UFA N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A

The Bengals front-loaded the cap hit on Rey this year, though his base salary is the lowest of the three years in 2016. Rey's workout bonus is just $300,000 and his roster bonus is $3.2 million this year. His current average salary will be $3.5 million, which is quite a jump from his previous two-year deal that averaged $2.1 million from 2014-2015.

All of the dead cap hit is in 2016, really putting the bulk of the onus on the Bengals with Rey this year, as they can move on from him, if need be, without a dead cap hit from 2017-2018. The entire deal is worth $10.5 million, which puts Rey tied for 56th among all NFL linebackers in terms of average annual salary.

The whole question with Rey and this contract is if the Bengals feel he's a starter getting paid starter money or not. Rey has started 25 games in his five-year career, including eight last year and 13 in 2014. At 56th in the league in average linebacker salaries, it puts him in the fringe starter money territory, as well as with some other rookie starters. With P.J. Dawson waiting in the wings for a chance to prove he's starter material, he and Rey might execute a similar rotation we saw between Rey and Emmanuel Lamur last season.

While the 2016 salary and cap hit might seem a little steep, the Bengals are/were a little thin at linebacker at the moment. Vontaze Burfict has been suspended for the first three games, and Lamur left in free agency to the Vikings. Still, the Bengals made it known they wanted Rey back in a bad way this offseason and one of the team's highest-character guys has made quite the career jump from undrafted free agent to valued member of the squad.