Rey Maualuga Released by Bengals After 8 Seasons with Team

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured ColumnistMarch 25, 2017

PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 1:  Linebacker Rey Maualuga #58 of the Cincinnati Bengals looks on from the sideline during a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on November 1, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  The Bengals defeated the Steelers 16-10. (Photo by George  Gojkovich/Getty Images)
George Gojkovich/Getty Images

The Cincinnati Bengals announced Saturday that they released linebacker Rey Maualuga after eight seasons with the team. 

According to USA Today's Tom Pelissero, cutting the 2009 second-round pick allowed the Bengals to clear $3.7 million in cap space.

Maualuga appeared in 14 games, including six starts, for the Bengals in 2016, but his production dipped noticeably. All told, the USC product tallied a career-low 27 tackles, two passes defended and an interception. 

Based on recent moves, though, Maualuga's release doesn't come as a major shock. 

The Bengals signed linebacker Kevin Minter to a one-year deal March 18, and his arrival signaled a changing of the guard at middle linebacker. 

According to ESPN's Adam Caplan, the Bengals intend to let Minter compete for the starting job at the position. He also reported head coach Marvin Lewis and Co. want to give second-year linebacker Nick Vigil more playing time as they seek "to get younger on defense."

Considering Cincinnati ranked 21st overall last season in average rushing yards allowed (113.3 per game), all eyes figure to be on a linebacking corps that needs to be more disciplined and physical at the point of attack. 

As for Maualuga, the 30-year-old projects as a solid veteran addition for a team in need of extra depth at the second level. 

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