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Fresh off the wire

Rey Maualuga, Cincinnati Bengals sign $6.5M contract

Marvin Lewis told Around The League at the NFL Scouting Combine that the Cincinnati Bengals wanted to bring back middle linebacker Rey Maualuga back into the fold, despite reports to the contrary.

The Bengals sealed the deal on Monday. NFL.com's Albert Breer reported it's for $6.5 million over two years, with a signing bonus close to $2.5 million, according to a source.

Maualuga met with the Arizona Cardinals as a free agent and reportedly had interest from the New York Giants, but he's returning to the team that drafted him. He may be changing positions, though.

Geoff Hobson writes that second-year pro Vontaze Burfict might take over Maualuga's spot at middle linebacker. Maualuga might move to the strong side, with the weak side now looking wide open. (Burfict played it last year.)

Lewis challenged Maualuga to step up as a leader midway through the 2011 season to mixed results. Maualuga never has been the difference-maker that Lewis hoped for at middle linebacker, but he's a solid enough starter. Next on the Bengals' agenda could be re-signing tackle Andre Smith and cornerback Adam Jones.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.

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