How much does Rey Maualuga have left in the tank?
By Matt Conner
The Chiefs hosted free agent linebacker Rey Maualuga earlier this week. We asked a Bengals insider to tell us what he has left in the tank.
Earlier this week, the Kansas City Chiefs brought in former Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Rey Maualuga. It was another free agent option for John Dorsey to check out as the team seeks options to help alleviate the loss of Josh Mauga and bolster its run defense. It also doesn’t help that Derrick Johnson is attempting to come back from a serious Achilles injury.
Maualuga left without a contract offer, but that doesn’t mean he won’t end up signing with the Chiefs. In order to find out more information about what Maualuga might offer the Chiefs, we asked Emile Pierce from Bengals blog Stripe Hype to tell us more about how much the veteran linebacker has left in the tank.
Rey saw his snaps decrease in recent years. Was that about a decline in skill and productivity or was it about scheme? Or both?
Unfortunately, it was a combination of all the above. Rey is a throwback type of defender. He hails back to the days of putting a strong hit on the runner to make him remember it. When the NFL began playing more nickel defense, suddenly linebackers needed to be a hybrid. His coverage skills began to slip and that was the beginning of his slide from grace with defensive coordinator Paul Guenther. Also, when linebackers coach Jim Haslett had the players lose weight, Maualuga reported to OTAs overweight. That wasn’t a good sign.
At this point in his career, what are the strengths that Rey brings to a new team?
Fans in the Nati may not feel the love for Rey anymore but he has a lot of pop left in him. He’s strong against the run and will be a good addition to clog the middle. Putting the weight issue aside, his locker room leadership will go a long way.
How are Rey’s coverage skills at this point?
Hopefully, they’ll become sharper. That’s primarily the reason Kevin Minter was snagged by the Bengals. Covering tight ends and shutting down running backs on pass plays requires agility and a bit of speed. Maualuga will definitely have to work on his footwork before camp.
What sort of contract and fit would you expect to see for Rey Maualuga?
A contract in the 1-2 year range would benefit Rey. That gives the team an adjustment period to see if he fits the scheme well. Playing him in a base 4-3 defense would bring out his strengths. Look for him to start slow and then pick up as he feels comfortable. That’s when he’ll be able to relax, react and attack.