Dolphins sign LB Rey Maualuga

ORCHARD PARK, NY - OCTOBER 18: Rey Maualuga /

The Miami Dolphins have signed linebacker Rey Maualuga to a one-year deal for the veteran’s minimum.

The Miami Dolphins needed some quality depth at linebacker after the season-ending injury to rookie Raekwon McMillan. On Saturday, they did exactly that by signing free agent Rey Maualuga to a one-year deal, worth $900,000. Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald was the first to report the signing. Salguero also reports that of the salary, $615,000 of it will count against the Dolphins salary cap.

Maualuga, entering his ninth year in the league, has spent his entire career with the Cincinnati Bengals to this point. With the Dolphins, Maualuga will reunite with defensive coordinator Matt Burke, who was Cincinnati’s linebackers coach for two seasons between 2014-2015. The Dolphins worked out Maualuga earlier this week, along with other free agent linebackers, but he left the facility without a contract. His familiarity with Burke is likely what landed him the job.

Maualuga playing middle linebacker is to be expected. He is a run-stuffing specialist, an area in which Miami has struggled mightily the past few seasons. He does not, however, bring much to the table on passing downs, so the Dolphins will likely use him solely on early downs or run-stoppage situations.

Miami had inserted Mike Hull as the starter at middle linebacker prior to Maualuga’s signing. Hull actually looked pretty good in Miami’s second preseason game against Baltimore, but it was clear with the depth behind him that the Dolphins had to do something. Even if Maualuga is announced as the starter, Hull is expected to see a lot of action. Maualuga saw a big dip in playing time in his final season with Cincinnati, and he should see about 25-30 snaps per game in Miami. The Dolphins want to take him out of passing situations as much as they can.

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With Neville Hewitt still sidelined, the Dolphins linebacker unit has looked severely thin so signing Maualuga makes a lot of sense. This close to the start of the season it makes even more sense why Miami would want to sign someone familiar with someone in their coaching staff. They already signed Jay Cutler, who spent a year with Adam Gase in Chicago, after Ryan Tannehill‘s season-ending injury. Signing familiar players just speeds up the process in teaching them the system. This is a smart move made by Miami.