Marvin Lewis wants Bengals to re-sign Rey Maualuga

USA TODAY Sports

Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis wants to re-sign middle linebacker Rey Maualuga.

Despite rumors to the contrary, Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis wants to re-sign linebacker Rey Maualuga. Lewis told NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal that Maualuga is "one of those guys you got to get back in the fold."

Maualuga, who turned 26 in January, registered a career-high 122 tackles in 2012, helping the Bengals reach the playoffs for a second-consecutive season. Maualuga also recorded one sack and registered a fumble recovery.

Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer was effusive in his praise for Maualuga, likening the Cincinnati linebacker to Justin Smith.

"(Maualuga) is, as you will find out when this free-agency period starts, a lot better than what a lot of people give him credit for," Zimmer told the Bengals' website Sunday. "I think that's going to be what people are going to find out if he goes. If he's not here, people are going to miss him and say we should have had him. That's how it works, like Justin Smith."

Cincinnati has plenty of cap space to work with this offseason, so it seems unlikely that money would be the sole cause for divorce between Maualuga and the Bengals, should the former USC linebacker opt to move on. The Bengals have a league-high $54 million of cap space to operate with this offseason.

Since being drafted in 2009, Maualuga has appeared in 60 games for the Bengals, compiling 348 tackles as Cincinnati's middle linebacker.

Maualuga will become eligible to sign with any team in the league on Mar. 12, when free agency opens up.

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