We have a saying in Spanish that goes "mejor malo conocido que bueno por conocer", which translated into this situation, means, with Emmanuel Lamur gone, the Bengals settled for somebody they already know, even though what they know about him might not be great. That somebody is Taylor Mays, who spent three years in Cincinnati, playing 50 games before leaving in free agency and being released by both the Lions and the Vikings in the past offseason and eventually making to the Raiders roster. Oakland cut him during the season, but signed him again.
Mays has all the physical tools to succeed in the NFL, and that intrigues many teams, which is why he is still getting another chance with the Bengals. He managed to improve a little bit in 2015, but not so much that he was highly coveted after getting suspended for the first four games of next season. The Bengals need an athletic player able to man the nickel linebacker position, a small but important role that Lamur's departure leaves open. Mays already replaced him when the now-Vikings player got injured in 2013, so it should be seemingly easy for Cincinnati's coaching staff to go back to him.
He offers versatility. Mays is a safety by trade and also played as nickel linebacker for both the Bengals and the Raiders. In Oakland he was used both as center fielder and in the box. He's got great size and decent speed, and can deliver a big hit when he is actually able to tackle an opponent. He broke down a career-high five passes in 2015, and got lined up against tight ends a bit more as the season went on. Sports Illustrated's Andy Benoit said of him that "he was a liability on coverage his previous stops, and he hasn't been this (last) year", which is half true.
The concern with him is that he is still a liability sometimes. Watching the tape you can see he was a second slow to react to the play on many occasions.
Mays was also very easy to remove from the play, and especially in the Raiders game against the Steelers, Pittsburgh was picking on him all game.
And if Ben Roethlisberger doesn't get greedy on this play, Steelers tight end Heath Miller is left wide open by Mays on third down. Luckily for the Raiders, Big Ben tried to go deep and got picked.
When he was one-on-one against a receiver, he didn't look bad though, but relied heavily on his hands and he should have been flagged more often. Against the Lions he got caught and offset a huge sack on 3rd and 6 on the Detroit 18-yard line.
Mays also lacks strength and what is worse, the decidedness to be above average against the run. He also struggled at tackling, which doesn't make him an upgrade over Lamur, unfortunately.
While it is true that at 28 he still has all the tools to be a good player in the NFL, his window is closing. Just look how bad quarterback Teddy Bridgewater - who is not Russell Wilson - made him look on this play.
He eventually settled down, playing more safety, and started in their Week 14 game against Denver in which the Broncos failed to score a touchdown, even though they barely tried to go deep at all. Mays finished that game with one tackle in 74 snaps, and almost gave away a fourth down pass that would have kept Denver alive late in the fourth quarter.
Considering he comes to provide depth and doesn't have a guaranteed spot on the roster, Mays is not a big signing and he can still contribute here and there, just don't expect him to be anything other than who he's proven to be during his career in the NFL so far.