Thursday, February 7, 2013
The Bengals' LB outlook
By Tim Kavanagh
By the time the start of the 2013 season rolls around, the Cincinnati Bengals may have an entirely different starting lineup of LBs than they had in Week 1 of 2012.
All three members of that group -- Manny Lawson, Rey Maualuga and Thomas Howard -- are hitting unrestricted free agency unless the Bengals elect to re-sign them. In the case of Maualuga, it appears that they have a replacement already on hand in Vontaze Burfict; with Howard, it will all depend on how he's looking in his recovery from a knee injury sustained in practice after Week 1. As for Lawson, ESPN AFC North blogger Jamison Hensley believes that the club could use an upgrade.
The good news is that there are some fine outside LBs in this year's draft class, and this could be the direction Cincinnati goes with their first-round pick. As long as they re-sign (or franchise tag) DE Michael Johnson, they'll return a solid D-line, so shoring up the second line of defense would make sense if they find a player they like at No. 21 overall.