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Bengals LB Vincent Rey could be a value backup again in 2018

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Vincent Rey has been a very valuable backup linebacker over the past few seasons, but how much longer can he keep it up.

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Tennessee Titans Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Vincent Rey has been around for awhile, and while he has never really gotten to the level of earning a starting role over other Bengals linebackers, he has served a very valuable role as a depth linebacker. The past few years with Vontaze Burfict in and out of the lineup have made that position especially important as Burfict routinely gets suspended or fined.

Last year was one of the more important years for Rey. He started 11 games as linebackers fell like flies due to injury. He also was tasked with helping along young linebackers like Jordan Evans, Hardy Nickerson and Brandon Bell who ended up playing more than anticipated.

It was very much a humbling year for Rey, though as his age is starting to show. He will turn 31 in early September, and we saw several examples of athletic play makers taking advantage of Rey. Can he still hold his spot as the depth linebacker?

Vincent Rey

Height: 6’

Weight: 250 pounds

College: Duke

Hometown: Brooklyn, NY

Experience: Eight seasons

Cap status

Rey has one season left on his contract. He is set to make $2.25 million this season while carrying a $2.725 million cap hit, according to Spotrac. Considering the Bengals situation at linebacker it would be fairly surprising to see the team extend or re-sign Rey for next year. The only way would be if he signed a contract that was heavily based on him making the roster for the 2019 season, but even then the Bengals will likely be content to move forward with their youth at the position.

Background

Rey is probably the poster child for undrafted free agents with the Bengals. Of course Burfict followed a similar route, but he was considered much more likely to be a contributor based on talent. Rey was almost an afterthought. He had to fight his way onto the roster, and he worked his way into an eight year career that isn’t over yet.

The only two seasons Rey didn’t play in all 16 games was his rookie season and the 2017 season. That is the kind of dependability that will keep you on a roster. He exploded onto the scene in 2014 when he started 13 games and recorded 121 tackles, which is a career-high.

Rey has also played just about every linebacker position as well as contributed heavily to special teams. He really did just about anything the team asked him to do.

2018 outlook

Rey will have to fight to hold his position as the first linebacker off the bench, and we will learn early on if he remains to hold onto that position with Burfict set to miss the first four games of the season due to suspension.

Nick Vigil (who started last year) and Preston Brown will likely be the starting linebackers with Burfict, but until his return we will likely see either Rey or Evans filling. For now, Evans has won the job.

One of the things that could hurt Rey keeping his position on the depth chart is new defensive coordinator Teryl Austin coming in and giving everyone an equal shot at competition. A guy like Paul Guenther may have valued Rey’s knowledge of the system more. Plus the fact the defense is changing puts all the linebackers on more of an even paying field, although Rey’s experience is still invaluable.

Rey will probably end up being the first guy off the bench, and we will likely see plenty of him on defense and special teams.