It’s the end of an era in Cincinnati. On Monday, the Bengals released linebacker Vontaze Burfict.
Burfict, one of the league’s most controversial players, has been a pillar of the Bengals’ defense throughout his seven year career.
Over the years, Burfict has helped to anchor the Bengals’ front seven with his hard-hitting style. Unfortunately, his aggression blurred the line when it comes to rules and safety regulations. In seven seasons, Burfict racked up whopping 14 total fines and/or suspensions from the league office, including three times in 2018. Last year, his sanctions resulted from PEDs and hits on Antonio Brown, James Conner, and Andy Janovich. All in all, Burfict lost $4.2MM and ten games for his violations.
By releasing Burfict before the final year of his contract, the Bengals will take on $1.8M in dead money. However, they’ll save $5.5M on this year’s cap. Meanwhile, Burfict should find a decent market for his services, though you can expect teams like the Steelers to pass on him given their history together.
Burfict, 29 in September, went undrafted in 2012 thanks to a bad showing at the combine and rumors of a failed drug test. Quickly, Burfict proved that belonged in the NFL. As a rookie, he compiled 127 stops in 16 games (14 starts) and followed up with a Pro Bowl nod and a league-leading 177 tackles in his second pro season.
When on the field, Burfict is a bonafide difference maker as a middle linebacker. But, because of his issues, Burfict may not garner offers with guarantees beyond 2019 like many of his MLB counterparts have this offseason.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.