Discussions between the Bengals and Vontaze Burfict on a new contract for the linebacker appear to have reached an impasse, according to ESPN.com’s Adam Caplan (via Twitter). We heard way back in May that the two sides had begun to discuss an extension, and earlier today a report suggested that the team still hoped to work something out before the regular season. However, it seems talks have stalled for now.
Burfict, 23, signed with the Bengals in 2012 as an undrafted free agent out of Arizona State, and quickly developed into a full-time starter in Cincinnati, leading the team in tackles (177) and earning a Pro Bowl nod in 2013. According to Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics (subscription required), despite racking up penalties, Burfict graded as the league’s fourth-best 4-3 outside linebacker last season, performing particularly well in pass coverage.
Because he wasn’t drafted, Burfict is significantly underpaid heading into his contract year — he’s in line for a $570K base salary, with a cap number that’s only marginally higher than that, as a result of the $1K signing bonus he received back in ’12. However, even though he deserves a raise, Burfict’s leverage is limited by the fact that he’ll only be eligible for restricted free agency in 2015, meaning the Bengals can tender the linebacker an offer that would make it difficult for him to sign elsewhere.
The Bengals are also hoping to address Andy Dalton‘s contract situation in the near future, as well as extending A.J. Green, so perhaps the club will shift its focus on getting something done with those players if talks with Burfict come to a halt.