The release will create $3.75MM in cap room. Maualuga’s place on Cincinnati’s roster became tenuous after the Bengals acquired Kevin Minter last week, and the former USC standout will have to find another NFL employer.
The middle linebacker played in 114 games with the Bengals. Under Marvin Lewis, that’s the most among Bengals’ backers. Maualuga was a full-time starter for his first seven seasons, but the former second-round pick saw his playing time decrease last season. The team used him on just 326 snaps in 14 games. He rated as the third-worst full-time linebacker, in the opinion of Pro Football Focus.
Cincinnati’s linebacking corps looks less cloudy as a result. Minter, Vontaze Burfict and Vincent Rey look to be the 2017 starters. Maualuga, who turned 30 in January, made just 27 tackles last season — a steep drop from his work during the Bengals’ five-year run of playoff berths. Minter signed a one-year, $4.25MM contract. Maualuga was slated to play for $3.15MM base.
This also continues a transition for the Bengals, who have lost several key contributors from those postseason-qualifying teams. Andrew Whitworth, Kevin Zeitler and Domata Peko departed like Reggie Nelson, Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu did last year as UFAs. The Bengals’ defensive second level will carry younger crew members in 2017; Karlos Dansby also departed to return to Arizona.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.