Fantasy Reaction: Rey Maualuga Re-Signs With Cincinnati
Rey Maualuga has re-signed with the Cincinnati Bengals and will remain with the team that drafted him, getting a two-year deal worth $6.5 million. Now that he’s signed and off the market, what’s his IDP value heading into 2013?
The Bengals drafted Maualuga in 2009 in the second round, but he saw his draft stock tumble after a poor showing at the Combine. His rookie year saw him play more in the Bengals base defense on the outside, as he appeared in just 476 defensive snaps and compiled 63 tackles. He was also able to notch a sack and force two fumbles. He graded out as the 15th 4-3 OLB (+5.1) in a two-down role, so coupled with his tackle frequency, IDP production could be foreseen.
His 2010 season saw him remain on the strong side and play slightly more snaps, though his IDP production was inconsistent. Maualuga finished the season with 75 total tackles and two interceptions. Once again, he was limited to base defense responsibilities.
He entered the 2011 season as a strong IDP sleeper candidate, as he kicked inside to play MIKE and had a chance to be a three-down linebacker. The role, however, turned out to be one that he’d struggle with. Maualuga ended up missing three games due to injury, and lost his every-down role for the last month of the season. Even though he compiled 88 tackles in 699 defensive snaps, his missed tackles added up (which was a knock on him before the draft). After missing 10 tackles total in his first two seasons, he missed 12 on the year, which was one of the factors that led to his poor grading (-8.0).
Once again, the 2012 season saw him high on the IDP radar, because of his potential tackle production (12.5% in a shortened 2011 season) and his role in the middle. If there’s anything that Maualuga has shown, is that he’s not capable of playing middle linebacker, as he received a -26.3 grade (the lowest among all ILB). Every aspect of his game suffered, and his run stop percentage was among the lowest among ILBs that played in over 50% of his team’s snaps (27 in 385 run snaps). From an IDP standpoint, he did post 122 tackles, but he wasn’t too much of a force around the ball (no turnovers forced). He also missed 16 tackles.
One of the knocks on Maualuga coming out of USC was his instinct to make the big hit and not the fundamental tackle. That has really come out over the last two seasons, missing a tackle in every seven attempts compared to every 14 attempts in his first two seasons. He also plays his home games with the assisted tackle-heavy Bengals stats crew. When you look at his numbers, Maualuga has close to a 1:1 solo to assist ratio and a 6.9% solo tackle frequency, which is very low for an ILB.
Vontaze Burfict outplayed Maualuga in 2012, but according to Bengals beat writer Joe Reedy, Burfict will continue to play WILL and Maualuga to man MIKE. Cincinnati would be wise to kick Maualuga back out to OLB at the strong side, which is actually where he’s more suited to play and keep him as a two-down linebacker. Maualuga enjoyed a combined +10.9 grade at the outside, compared to -34.3 when played the middle. It’ll be something to keep an eye on during the offseason, but even if he does man the middle, from an IDP standpoint, he should be considered someone to stay away from on draft day and only a possible waiver wire acquisition to cover injuries or bye weeks.
Mike Woellert is a Senior Writer for Pro Football Focus Fantasy. Follow Mike on Twitter @PFF_MWoellert