The Cincinnati Bengals are nearing deals to re-sign linebacker Rey Maualuga and cornerback Adam Jones, Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com reported Saturday night.
Maualuga has played all four of his NFL seasons with the Bengals since the team drafted him in the second round of the 2009 draft. He started all 16 games for the Bengals last season, totaling a career-high 122 tackles and one sack. Defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer told Bengals.com how important he felt Maualuga was to the Bengals' defense in an interview on Feb. 24.
"He 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," said Zimmer, alluding to how defensive end Justin Smith became a Pro Bowler when he left Cincinnati. "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."
Jones has revitalized his career in three seasons with the Bengals, starting all 16 games last season and serving as the team's primary punt returner. He had an 81-yard punt return for a touchdown last season, his first punt-return score since he had three for the Tennessee Titans in 2006.
Hobson also reported re-signing cornerback Terence Newman is high on the team's to-do list in free agency.