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Bengals’ decision to sign Kevin Minter improves roster

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The Bengals are breaking from their traditional ways and signing a young, unrestricted free agent who looks to improve the linebacker unit.

NFL: New Orleans Saints at Arizona Cardinals Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Bengals have made their second unrestricted free agent signing of 2017 and picked up former Arizona Cardinals linebacker Kevin Minter.

This is a positive and somewhat surprising move from the Bengals who rarely sign unrestricted free agents and have now signed two in the last week.

The Bengals signed right tackle/guard Andre Smith to add talent to the offensive line earlier in the week. But, that was a more quintessential Bengals free agency signing as Smith is simply returning to the team after one year away. Minter fits none of the boxes the Bengals typically check when considering free agents. He wasn’t cut by his last team, he is under 30 and he didn’t play for the Bengals in the past.

That makes this a pretty surprising move from the Bengals, though, we did know he visited Cincinnati earlier in the week. So, it’s not coming out of nowhere.

Minter was a second round draft pick in the 2013 NFL Draft and is currently only 26-years-old, seemingly in the prime of his career. He’s been an inside linebacker in Arizona’s 3-4 defense for all of his career. So, he will need to spend the offseason learning to adapt to the Bengals’ 4-3 defense. Last year, Pro Football Focus ranked Minter as the NFL's 25th best linebacker.

This could be a warning sign for Rey Maualuga who already saw a significant reduction in his snap count in 2016 and could become a roster cut sooner than later in Cincinnati. You also have to wonder if this is a sign the Bengals will not be drafting a linebacker in Round 1 of the 2017 NFL Draft, ruling out Alabama’s Reuben Foster as a candidate for the No. 9 pick.

Kevin Minter NFL Stats

Year Team G Comb Total Ast Sck SFTY PDef
Year Team G Comb Total Ast Sck SFTY PDef
2016 Arizona Cardinals 16 81 59 22 3.5 2
2015 Arizona Cardinals 16 94 72 22 0.5 1 2
2014 Arizona Cardinals 16 44 39 5 1
2013 Arizona Cardinals 13 4 4
-- Total 61 223 174 49 5 1 4

What are your thoughts on this signing? To me, it proves the Bengals aren’t content with their current situation and are ready to make moves to improve the roster.