Thursday, February 21, 2013
The post-Maualuga Bengals
By Tim Kavanagh
With all three of the Cincinnati Bengals' starting linebackers from Week 1 of 2012 set to hit unrestricted free agency, one topic we've been addressing is what the club could look like without Manny Lawson, Rey Maualuga and Thomas Howard. In the case of one of the three, it appears it's more than just a hypothetical now.
Per Adam Caplan of the Sideline View, the Bengals are unlikely to re-sign Maualuga.
The most likely scenario now for the Bengals is that rising second-year pro Vontaze Burfict will shift to MLB; he was inserted at WLB after Howard went down with a season-ending injury early on during the 2012 campaign. As for Maualuga, there are a number of teams that are in the market for inside linebacker help, including the Bills, Vikings, Redskins, Saints and Jets (though Maualuga may not be a fit for some of the clubs that use a 3-4 base defense). And of course, there's the Bears, who may be saying goodbye to Brian Urlacher this offseason, and lack a viable replacement there as of now.
Here's ESPN AFC North blogger Jamison Hensley on Burfict's rise:
Jamison HensleyReport: Maualuga done in Cincy
"Unlike Maualuga, Burfict surpassed expectations after being forced into the starting lineup in Week 3 when Thomas Howard went down with a season-ending injury. Starting 14 games at weakside linebacker, Burfict totaled a team-leading 127 tackles, which ranked 15th in the NFL. He showed the same explosiveness that made him a first-round prospect coming out of Arizona State. But poor workouts and a questionable attitude led to Burfict going undrafted. Now, it appears Burfict's next move is to middle linebacker."