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Friday, March 7, 2014
Bengals RFA value: Vincent Rey


Now that the Cincinnati Bengals have placed tenders on all three of their restricted free agents, let's take a look at the value each player brings to the team.

With the low-round tender option, the Bengals would pay all three $1.4 million next season if another team doesn't reach out and try to woo them away. If another team does make a higher offer when free agency starts next week, the Bengals' tender gives them the ability to match that same offer. Normally if they didn't match the other team's offer, the Bengals would be compensated by that team through the draft. Whichever round the respective free agent was originally drafted, the Bengals would receive a selection in that round.

Since all three of these players went undrafted, though, the Bengals won't be getting draft-round compensation.

So should the Bengals try to match offers and keep these three? Or should they be content to let them go if higher offers come? We'll briefly examine each player's value here. On Wednesday, we took a look at receiver Andrew Hawkins. Up next:

LB Vincent Rey

The good: If there is a quintessential "locker room guy," Rey is it. He's well-liked by his teammates, well-respected by his coaches and admired around Cincinnati. The fact that he has gone from undrafted special teams player to rising backup linebacker star is a testament to Rey's attitude and work ethic. When Mike Zimmer was still the Bengals defensive coordinator, he spoke often about how Rey would be among those putting in extra time studying opponents' film and breaking down his own play. Because of that, more often than not, Rey was in the right position to make plays in 2013 when he was needed following an injury to middle linebacker Rey Maualuga. Posting a career high in tackles (47), sacks (4) and interceptions (2), Rey had the most productive year defensively of his career.

The bad: Rey has been the unfortunate recipient of poor timing when it comes to playing on defense. Since he's been in Cincinnati, there's been a "Mike" (middle) or "Will" (outside) linebacker listed on the depth chart ahead of him, forcing him to focus the majority of his attention on standing out on special teams. That actually hasn't been a bad thing. The more he has impressed on special teams, the more he has earned opportunities to play defensively when they present themselves. It's just that with commitments to Maualuga and Vontaze Burfict, it has been tough for him to see much starting action.

His anticipated future role: If he remains in Cincinnati, Rey's future role won't change much from what it has been. Again, Maualuga and Burfict will be getting the bulk of opportunities ahead of him, and a healthy Emmanuel Lamur will be playing often as an extra coverage linebacker in most pass-defense packages. Still, you have to imagine that if the Bengals are able to hold on to Rey that they will have a number of plays drawn up that will get him onto the field. Not only did he impress Zimmer, but he also impressed the other defensive coaches who are still on staff, namely former linebackers coach Paul Guenther, who is the team's new defensive coordinator. Special teams have always been a key part of Rey's game in the NFL and will continue to be if he returns to Cincinnati.

Try to keep him? Rey most certainly will field offers from other teams not only because of how well he played in all of 2013, but particularly because of how he looked in relief of Maualuga across a four-game, mid-season stretch. Cincinnati likely will have to hand over more cash than the $1.4 million tender they offered him, but will only be forced to do so if indeed it plans on matching a higher offer another team makes. Last year's depth hit at linebacker proved a team can never have too many contributing players at that position. When Lamur went down at the end of the preseason with his season-ending injury, the Bengals' linebacker plans were thrown into disarray. They already were missing rookies Sean Porter and Brandon Joiner because of injuries. So, before ultimately signing veteran Michael Boley to a one-year contract in Week 5, they tested out using defensive back Taylor Mays in some Nickel packages as an extra cover player of sorts. In order to keep depth at the position, it would behoove the Bengals to keep a player like Rey who they feel they can trust.