Bengals finalize Rivers deal but keep dealing

Rey Maualuga

The Keith Rivers trade is officially in the books as the Bengals offseason rolls. The Bengals and Giants signed off on the deal Thursday that gives the Bengals the Giants' fifth-round pick at No. 167.

Plus, word is the Bengals are close to getting their backup tight end back for another season with Donald Lee nearing a contract. Lee would be the Bengals' seventh unrestricted free agent to re-sign in the last month, bringing their total free-agent signings to 14.

Lee, heading into his 10th season, played a big role last year when he came over from the Packers to fill in for Pro Bowl tight end Jermaine Gresham when he was injured. He had 11 catches for 115 yards and is a valuable blocker in offensive coordinator Jay Gruden's versatile sets.


With the Keith Rivers trade the Bengals have nine linebackers under contract. Between the draft and college free agency, they'll probably add three and take a dozen to training camp before keeping seven at final cutdown:

DeQuin Evans, 6-2, 250 - The rookie free agent out of Kentucky impressed last season and made the practice sqaud, but he's still rehabbing from shoulder surgery and making the transition from college end to end/linebacker.

Thomas Howard, 6-3, 240 - The Raiders free agent blossomed in his sixth NFL season last year as the starter at WILL. How good was he? He played all three downs and played them well enough to make former first-round pick Keith Rivers expendable.

Micah Johnson, 6-2, 258 - Came out of Kentucky as a free agent in 2010. A middle backer who hooked on the practice squad late last year on his third NFL stop.

Manny Lawson, 6-5, 240 - Former first-round pick who signed on last season from the 49ers to start at SAM and re-upped for another year a few weeks ago. After his first stint in a 4-3 last year, both he and the club are expecting bigger things with an entire preseason under his belt.

Rey Maualuga, 6-2, 260 - In his first full season starting in the middle played extremely well early on. But he appeared to be playing hurt after he missed three mid-season games with a severely sprained ankle that needed a procedure after the season. The Bengals are counting on him being better and healthy.

Dontay Moch, 6-2, 241 - 2011 third-rounder didn't take a snap last year hounded by a foot injury and persistent headaches. Making the transition from college end to SAM backer/rush end. The club believes he's OK, but is waiting to see how he responds to exercise once the offseason workouts start Monday.

Roddrick Muckelroy, 6-2, 245 - A 2010 fourth-rounder who is mainly a backup middle backer that can play WILL if needed in a crunch. Missed all last season with torn Achilles, but the Bengals are hoping he'll get on the field some time in May. Came up with some big hits on the goal line as a rookie playing the middle.

Vincent Rey, 6-2, 247 - Heading into his second full NFL season, the free agent out of Duke was a hit on special teams last year with nine tackles. Plays WILL, but he may be a bit undersized to take a steady diet of snaps from scrimmage.

Dan Skuta, 6-2, 248 - Does it all. He's the first guy off the bench at middle and SAM as well as the leader of special teams with 39 tackles in his three seasons.

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