The worst-kept secret in Cincinnati is now out after the Bengals announced the signing of safety Taylor Mays on Friday.
Though the deal has been pretty much done for weeks now, the team had yet to announce the move until now, which means Mays is officially back with the team who he's had his best success with during his NFL career.
We've know the details of Mays' contract since March 25th. It's one-year deal worth $840,000 with signing bonus for 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.
Mays, an unrestricted free agent who played in 14 games with five starts for Oakland last season, logged 25 tackles and six passes defended (tied for sixth on team) in 2015.
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. The Bengals wanted to bring Mays back almost as soon as the offseason began in 2015, but Mays wanted to be with his former defensive coordinator in Mike Zimmer 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.
Breaking down Taylor Mays' contract with Bengals
Taylor Mays gives the Bengals some secruity at safety, but there's no assurance he'll make the final roster.
Mays' 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, so expect to see Mays remain part of the Bengals into the 2016 season as he looks to win a backup safety spot.