The Bengals continue to host linebackers for free agent visits, the latest being Kevin Minter.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Minter is set to Cincinnati after a trip to Indianapolis:
Cardinals' free-agent LB Kevin Minter, who's visiting Indianapolis today, is scheduled to visit Cincinnati on Wednesday.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 14, 2017
Minter, who will be a fifth-year NFL player in 2017, has spent his entire NFL career with the Cardinals. He’s been a full-time inside linebacker in each of the past two seasons, racking up 175 total tackles, four sacks and four pass deflections in the process.
The 6’0”, 246-pound Miner finished 2016 as Pro Football Focus’ 25th-best linebacker. He’s easily one of the best defenders left on the market, and it’s becoming clear the Bengals want to upgrade their linebacking corps.
They’ve already hosted Keenan Robinson for a free agent visit, though he’s more of an outside linebacker. Because Minter has played exclusively at inside linebacker in Arizona, it’s unclear what his position in Cincinnati would be, though it would likely come in the middle. Robinson has ties to the Bengals through linebacker coach Jim Haslett, who coached him in Washington.
That’s where the Bengals need the most help, especially if Rey Maualuga is cut this offseason. The team probably won’t cut him unless they feel they have a clear replacement. There’s some thought Nick Vigil could be that person, but because Karlos Dansby has left to sign with the Colts, Vigil is now the starting strongside linebacker with Vontaze Burfict on the weakside.
If the Bengals could sign Minter, perhaps then they would finally get rid of Maualuga, who has more than wore out his welcome in Cincinnati. Minter would be a solid upgrade over him, so hopefully this trade-off happens.
Even better is that Minter is just 26-years-old, four years younger than Maualuga. One would think Minter is about to sign a nice deal this offseason, but it sounds like the Bengals may at least make a run at him.
And while Minter should sign a respectable deal, he probably won’t make much more than Maualuga’s current deal, which pays him $3.6 million in what’s set to be the final year of his contract.
It sounds like a layup for the Bengals to sign Minter and cut Maualuga, no?