The Bengals re-signed free agent linebacker Rey Maualuga today to two-year contract worth a reported $6.5.

Maualuga started all 16 games last year and finished with a career-high 122 tackles with one sack, one fumble recovery and five passes defended.

He will be entering his fifth NFL season.

After a slow start in 2012, Maualuga shed 20 pounds and started playing much better in his second season at middle linebacker. But Maualuga did not play well in the Wild Card loss at Houston — despite logging a team-high 15 tackles — and in the aftermath he sounded like a player who did not expect to be back with the team when asked about it.

“I obviously started the season off slow,” he said two days after the playoff loss. “I think as a player I progressed and got better and better. The playoff game was very big. It felt as if that’s where everything falls into place. Maybe not an audition, but it sure would help moving forward if things went well and I made some good plays. We’ll see. It is on film, so regardless of whether it’s here or not, we’re going to watch it and see where they think Rey Maualuga should be.”

The Bengals’ second round pick in 2009, Maualuga has started 61 games.

“Rey has been a fine young player for us, and he continues to grow on and off the field,” Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said in a statement. “He is passionate about becoming a great player, and we’re excited to have him back as we work with these signings to keep our defense together.”