Bengals will reportedly sign linebacker to likely replace Maualuga

Bengals LB Rey Maualuga finished the 2016-17 season with 17 solo tackles and an interception. (WKRC/Tony Tribble)

CINCINNATI (WKRC) - It's no secret the Bengals are looking for an upgrade over Rey Maualuga at middle linebacker and on Saturday they have reportedly taken a step in that direction.

According to Josina Anderson of ESPN, the Bengals will sign unrestricted free agent linebacker Kevin Minter to a contract. The deal is for one year and $4.5 milion.

Minter played the last four seasons for the Arizona Cardinals, starting 37 of 61 games he played in that span after being selected in the second round of the 2013 Draft out of LSU. He started all 32 games over the last two seasons at inside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. The Bengals play a 4-3 scheme and are in the market for a middle linebacker to supplant veteran Ray Maualuga, who was unproductive this past season and saw his playing time decrease significantly.

Minter visited the Bengals last week.

According to the analytics-based, Minter is the fifth-highest rated unrestricted free agent linebacker.

The team also had a visit from New York Giants unrestricted free agent middle linebacker Keenan Robinson on Monday. He is one of the lowest-rated unrestricted free agent linebackers, according to

It's possible that Minter could also play on the outside and the Bengals could still draft a middle linebacker.

In the latest MockDraft the team's first-round selection was Alabama middle linebacker Reuben Foster.

The Bengals lost veteran Karlos Dansby to free agency. They still have standout Vontaze Burfict on the outside and veteran utility linebacker Vinny Rey along with second-year outside linebacker Nick Vigil and a handful of unproven players in the mix like Paul Dawson and Marquis Flowers.

The Bengals also had a visit last week from defensive end Connor Barwin, but the University of Cincinnati product signed with the Los Angeles Rams.

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