John Dorsey goes window shopping with Rey Maualuga, veteran linebackers

CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 11, 2016: Linebacker Rey Maualuga
CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 11, 2016: Linebacker Rey Maualuga /

The Chiefs are hosting free agent linebacker Rey Maualuga on Thursday as they continue to explore veteran options in the middle.

For the last eight seasons, Rey Maualuga’s home was Paul Brown Stadium, specifically situated in the heart of the Cincinnati Bengals defense. Ever since the franchise made him their second round pick in 2009, they’ve enjoyed a strong return on their investment, as Maualuga has made 104 starts in that time and another 4 in the playoffs.

Now, for the first time, Maualuga is feeling out his options—and what it means to potentially call another city and stadium home.

The Chiefs are Maualuga’s first official visit in free agency, a sign that, for most veterans, after the initial frenzy when the big money is spent, many NFL players have to wait for the dust to settle and the draft to pass. Maualuga is taking a visit on Thursday to Arrowhead Stadium, but that doesn’t mean a deal will get done. Gerald Hodges did the same only weeks ago and remains a free agent as well.

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The Chiefs are essentially window shopping at this point for a run-stopping linebacker to help in the base run defense. Maualuga would fit that role just fine, but is he better than Ramik Wilson, who is also on the roster? What about Josh Mauga, the veteran LB who is also a free agent who has been with the Chiefs for the last three seasons? And what about Hodges, who looked nice in a breakout season last year for the 49ers?

None of these players will make much or play much, but the Chiefs know stopping the run is part of forming an elite defense, and it’s an area within which they need to get better. Bennie Logan, the team’s newest defensive tackle and Dontari Poe’s replacement, was one part of that puzzle. Adding a thumper to the second level is the next step.

If Maualuga signs (or if anyone else does, for that matter), it will signal that John Dorsey, the team’s general manager, felt that he was a more athletic and better option than the others who have been around in one facet or another. For a free agent, that means that even the time it will take that player to adjust to the scheme will ultimately be worth it for the sake of better on-field play. It’s not a major role, but it’s important nonetheless and Dorsey is making sure he knows exactly what’s on the shelves before going shopping in the draft class.