PHOENIX, Ariz. - Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer ended up getting one of his old Bengals safeties Tuesday when multiple reports said Taylor Mays signed with Minnesota.
The Bengals would have liked to have had Mays back for a fifth season to continue backing up nickel backer Emmanuel Lamur and play special teams, but they aren't looking to pay backups much more than the minimum after dropping about $23 million in salary cap room this month and bracing for future deals that extend some players heading into their contract year.
Mays, a 49ers second-round pick in 2010 acquired in a trade the next season, never got on the field much to play safety for Zimmer. He played 61 snaps in 2011 and 61 this season. The most he played was 203 snaps in 2013 when Lamur suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in the preseason and before he suffered his own season-ender in the middle of the season.
Lamur's backup could be last year's sixth-rounder, linebacker Marquis Flowers, a former college safety.
Also, a week after signing Michael Johnson it's believed they have interest in another former Bengals defensive lineman, tackle Pat Sims. Sims, 29, a third-round pick of the Bengals in 2008, was a solid backup run player for them before he moved on to Oakland the last two years.
But, according to profootballfocus.com, he has remained productive. In 429 snaps this year, PFF ranked him tied for 34th among tackles playing the run and he was sitting with two pretty good ones, the Bengals' Geno Atkins and Tampa's Gerald McCoy. And in 2013, PFF had him rated 14th.
The Bengals are looking for depth behind Atkins, Domata Peko, and Brandon Thompson. They had those four in place in 2012 and finished 12th against the rush.