The Cincinnati Bengals have been great at re-signing their own recently, even when it involves players who've been gone for a year or two.
The latest example is safety Taylor Mays, who's back in the Queen City on a one-year deal. Per Spotrac, Mays' deal is worth $840,000. However, his signing bonus is a mere $25,000, about the amount a high priority undrafted free agent will get with no assurance to even make the 53-man roster.
That's pretty much the case for Mays, though he does have a 53-man roster bonus of $35,000 and a workout bonus of $20,000. He'll have just a $25,000 dead cap hit if the Bengals opt to cut him, so he's far from having a spot secured on the final roster.
It is worth noting, the Bengals have not yet officially announced Mays' signing, even though all the contract details have been made available.
Mays originally left the Bengals in 2015 as a free agent to sign a one-year deal with the Minnesota Vikings, which reunited him with his former defensive coordinator and now head coach in Mike Zimmer.
The Bengals wanted to bring Mays back, but he wanted to be with his former DC while also getting more playing time. Mays had little to no shot of playing last year with Reggie Nelson, Shawn Williams and George Iloka ahead of him on the depth chart, not to mention Derron Smith looking like a promising DB.
A former second-round pick in the 2010 NFL draft, Mays quickly went from starting safety for the San Francisco 49ers to trade bait as the hard-hitter was a major liability against the pass. Mays has played 50 games for the Bengals, including an eight-game stretch in 2013 where he played a linebacker/safety hybrid role, filling in for the injured Emmanuel Lamur.
Mays later suffered a season-ending injury at the mid-season point that year. Other than that, he was a special teams guy in Cincinnati. His limited upside and liabilities in coverage helped lead to Minnesota cutting him less than three months after signing him in the 2015 offseason. Mays was also picked up and dropped by the Lions.
Mays would later sign a one-year deal with Oakland, where he played in 14 games with the Raiders. (They too cut him during the season, but picked him up again when the injury bug hit.) He even made five starts at safety and finished with a respectable 64.6 Pro Football Focus grade. He would've seen some interest on the open market this offseason, but a four-game suspension to start the 2016 season likely killed any interest other than the Bengals'.
The suspension is for violating the NFL's policy on substances of abuse, and since he'll miss the first four games in 2016, he won't count against the 53-man roster during that time. That should keep him with the Bengals until at least his suspension is up, but whether he makes it to the active roster is a big question mark.
If the Bengals at some point re-sign Reggie Nelson to go with Shawn Williams, George Iloka and Derron Smith, it's hard to see Mays making the final roster. However, with Nelson continuing to sit on the open market, it's possible Mays becomes the fourth safety who can also play some linebacker.