Vontaze Burfict

Extra Points: Browns, Bengals, Redskins

Kevin Hogan will serve as the Browns‘ backup quarterback on Sunday instead of Cody Kessler, as head coach Hue Jackson explained to reporters, including Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal. While the shifting of reserve signal-caller duties isn’t necessarily earth-shattering news on its own, Kessler’s demotion could potentially have after-effects. If Hogan shows well as Cleveland’s No. 2 quarterback, Kessler would theoretically make for a relatively attractive trade candidate. Only 24 years old, Kessler started eight games and completed 65.6% of his passes as a rookie. The Browns, clearly, haven’t been afraid of dealing current assets for future picks.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • While Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict‘s extension was announced as a three-year, $38.68MM deal, the specifics of the pact aren’t as impressive, as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. The only fully guaranteed portion of the contract is Burfict’s $3.3MM signing bonus, while $2.25MM annually is tied to gameday active roster bonuses, an especially hefty total given Burfict’s injury history. And while Burfict’s 2017 base salary will now increase from $3.95MM to $7.936MM, Burfict’s impending three-game suspension will ensure that he loses $1.4MM of that new total.
  • As part of the extension that will keep him with the Redskins through 2019, running back Chris Thompson has agreed to rework his 2017 salary, according to Master Tesfatsion of the Washington Post (Twitter link). Originally scheduled to earn a base salary of $2.746MM, Thompson will now take home ~$2.5MM in total compensation for the upcoming season, but will also bring in a signing bonus of $3MM. Additionally, Thompson can earn $250K in roster bonuses in 2018-19, while $1.125MM is available in annual incentives during that same period.
  • Offensive lineman Byron Bell earned his third and final $150K bonus of the offseason by making weight prior to the start of the Cowboys‘ regular season, reports Todd Archer of ESPN.com. Bell scored the same weight bonus (for tipping the scales at fewer than 320 pounds) when minicamp and training camp, respectively, got underway. Signed to a one-year deal in March, Bell will also earn a $1MM base salary, a $250K signing bonus, and $300K in per-game roster bonuses. The 28-year-old will serve as the top reserve lineman on one of the league’s best front fives.
  • Free agent punter Brock Miller worked out for the 49ers on Thursday, according to Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area (Twitter link), but it doesn’t appear that San Francisco will be signing Miller at this time. Instead, the left-footed Miller was brought in to help the 49ers’ special teams unit prepare for Panthers punter Michael Palardy (another lefty). The 49ers will go forward with punter Bradley Pinion, while Miller — who inked a futures deal with San Francisco in January — will continue to hit the workout circuit.

Bengals Sign Vontaze Burfict To Extension

This developed fast. The Bengals and Vontaze Burfict agreed to a three-year extension worth $38.68MM, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.

Word of an extension for the polarizing linebacker surfaced this afternoon, and it looks like the longtime Bengals second-level standout will be staying in Cincinnati for a while.

This deal will make Burfict the highest-paid 4-3 outside linebacker in the game on a per-year basis. It tops Jamie Collins‘ Browns pact, which is worth $12.5MM per year. The 26-year-old Burfict’s deal will be for $12.89MM AAV.

And despite Burfict set to serve a three-game suspension to start another season, he will see an additional $7MM in 2017, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (on Twitter). A $3.3MM signing bonus will come Burfict’s way as well, per Rapoport.

A starter since coming into the league in 2012 as a UDFA, Burfict has been a key part of Cincinnati’s defense and run of playoff appearances. Burfict, who rated as Pro Football Focus’ No. 6 linebacker last season, has started 58 games — of a possible 80 — in his career. But he will be under Bengals control for the remainder of the decade. Burfict was set to be a UFA after this season, so this re-up will tie him to Cincinnati through the 2020 campaign.

The former Arizona State linebacker has obviously brought a swarm of negative attention to the franchise, and he won’t begin his sixth NFL season until October after being suspended for a preseason hit, but it’s clear now the Bengals continue to view him as a cornerstone talent.

Only three 4-3 outside ‘backers even earn eight figures annually, so the Bengals are paying a premium for a player who continually tests the NFL’s boundaries on in-game violence. Burfict will miss the first three games of a season for the second straight year. Nevertheless, he becomes only the sixth non-rush linebacker to enter the $10MM-per-year club. A one-time Pro Bowler, Burfict will also earn more than three-time first-team All-Pro Luke Kuechly annually.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bengals, Vontaze Burfict Discussing Extension

The Bengals and linebacker Vontaze Burfict are discussing an extension, ESPN.com’s Josina Anderson hears (on Twitter). Burfict is currently scheduled to reach free agency after the 2017 season. Vontaze Burfict (vertical)

Burfict’s talent is undeniable but his playing style has long been a source of controversy. His latest questionable tackle on Anthony Sherman in the preseason will have him shelved for the first three games of the 2017 season, down from an initial five-game ban. Burfict has only played in 58 of a possible 80 regular-season contests in his five-year career due to suspension and injury.

Burfict was Pro Football Focus’ No. 6 ranked linebacker in 2017, putting him behind only Jerrell Freeman, Luke Kuechly, Bobby Wagner, Paul Posluszny, and Sean Lee. In his suspension-shortened season, Burfict’s had 101 tackles and two sacks across eleven games.

The linebacker will celebrate his 27th birthday on Sept. 24, so the Bengals could be looking to control him for at least four extra years. Burfict would be sacrificing prime seasons in such an extension, but he also wouldn’t have to worry about what could be a tepid market for his services. One has to imagine that at least a few teams will shy away from Burfict given his track record.

The Bengals will be without Burfict when they take on the Ravens, Texans, and Packers in the first few weeks of the season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Bills, Steelers, Bengals

The Bills sent big-money defensive tackle Marcell Dareus home before their preseason game against the Ravens last week after he violated a team rule, leaving general manager Brandon Beane unsure if the two-time Pro Bowler is part of the solution. Asked this week if Dareus is on board with what the team is trying to build, Beane told Joe Buscaglia of WKBW (via Mark Inabinett of AL.com): “I don’t know. Time will tell. It was disappointing, as I said, after that game. He was contrite yesterday and said the right things. Actions speak louder than words. Time will tell. Hopefully, he is. We hope he’ll play to his potential. We know what kind of player he can be. We hope to see that on the field.” Even if the Bills are fed up with Dareus, who has multiple suspensions on his resume, moving on from the cornerstone defender in the near future would be extremely difficult because of the structure of his contract. The Bills inked Dareus to a six-year, $91.5MM extension in September 2015.

More from two other AFC cities:

  • The Steelers expect the NFL to fully reinstate wide receiver Martavis Bryant in advance of Week 1, GM Kevin Colbert told Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh-Post Gazette (Twitter link). The league suspended Bryant for all of last season for repeated violations of its substance abuse policy, conditionally reinstated the 25-year-old in April and gave him clearance to participate in the preseason three weeks ago. He hasn’t appeared in a meaningful game since a playoff loss to the Broncos on Jan. 17, 2016.
  • Cornerback Joe Haden‘s $5.75MM signing bonus is the only guaranteed portion of the three-year, $27MM contract the Steelers gave him Wednesday, according to Dan Graziano of ESPN.com. The pact includes base salaries of $1.25MM, $9MM and $10MM, and it comes with a $1MM roster bonus that’s due in March 2018.
  • Linebacker Vontaze Burfict‘s suspensions call his future with the Bengals into question, Katherine Terrell of ESPN.com observes. Burfict is set to serve a three-game ban for the second straight campaign, and he has only played 58 of a possible 80 regular-season contests in his five-year career. Cincinnati’s going to have to consider Burfict’s lack of availability when deciding whether to re-sign him by next winter, then. The same goes for tight end Tyler Eifert, whom injuries have limited to 37 of a possible 64 games during his four seasons. Both players make the Bengals better when they’re on the field, which Terrell notes will make for tough decisions in each case.

Vontaze Burfict’s Suspension Reduced

Vontaze Burfict‘s suspension has been reduced to three games, Josina Anderson of ESPN.com tweets. The Bengals linebacker was slated for a five-game ban before his appeal hearing. Vontaze Burfict (vertical)

Burfict found himself in hot water for his hit on Chiefs fullback Anthony Sherman earlier in the preseason. The linebacker tackled Sherman roughly four or five yards from the line of scrimmage and nailed him in the head/neck area. Sherman did not have the ball, nor was he the targeted receiver on the play. Whether intentional or not, the hit provoked the ire of the league office because it came in well above the jersey numbers.

I hit harder than most of the other linebackers,” Burfict explained earlier this week (via Jim Owczarski of The Enquirer). “He kind of crunched up. I lowered my target, hit him straight in the chest. I talked to him the next series to see if he was alright and he said yeah, that’s a legal hit. You’ve got to keep your head on a swivel when you come across the middle and everybody knows that.”

Of course, Burfict has run afoul of league safety rules before. Over his five-year career, Burfict has racked up nearly $800K in fines and been flagged 16 times for unnecessary roughness, personal fouls or roughing the passer.

Burfict’s 2016 season was also shortened by a suspension. He finished out the year with 101 tackles and two sacks across eleven games.

The Bengals will be without Burfict for games against the Ravens, Texans, and Packers, but they’ll now have him in uniform for contests against the Browns and Bills.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bengals’ Vontaze Burfict Facing Suspension

Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict is facing a five-game suspension for an illegal hit against a Chiefs fullback Anthony Sherman in the preseason, sources tell ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter). Burfict is appealing and he’ll have his hearing next week. Vontaze Burfict (vertical)

Upon learning of the league’s decision, the Bengals offered support for the veteran in a statement:

The Bengals are aware of the NFL’s letter to Vontaze regarding a play in last weekend’s game. The film shows that the hit was legal, that Vontaze engaged his opponent from the front, and that contact was shoulder-to-chest. The Club will support Vontaze in the appeal process.”

Video of the hit shows Burfict driving his shoulder into Sherman’s head/neck area roughly four or five yards from the line of scrimmage. Sherman is not Alex Smith‘s targeted receiver, but Burfict’s reps may argue that he was first thrown off by a pump fake from the quarterback, leading him to a tackle on the fullback. Burfict will probably argue that the placement of the hit was also accidental.

Of course, this is not Burfict’s first rodeo when it comes to violating league safety rules. Over his five-year career, Burfict has racked up nearly $800K in fines and been flagged 16 times for unnecessary roughness, personal fouls or roughing the passer. Last year, Burfict was sidelines for the first three weeks of the season due to an illegal hit on Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown in the 2015 playoffs.

The Bengals are now slated to be without Burfict for games against the Ravens, Texans, Packers, Browns, and Bills. Because the Bengals have a Week 6 bye, Burfict would not return to the field until Week 7 against the Steelers.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Bengals, Osweiler, Hali

Tyler Eifert and Vontaze Burfict are both entering their contract seasons, and while the Bengals have not allowed a Pro Bowl player to leave via free agency who is under the age of 32 since 2011, both players present unique considerations. Both are justified in aiming to be paid at the top of the pay scale for their respective positions, but Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer says Burfict, because of his injury history and run-ins with the league’s player safety rules, is more likely to receive a contract like Dont’a Hightower‘s (four years, $35.5MM with $17MM in guarantees) than Luke Kuechly‘s (five years, $61.8MM with $34MM in guarantees). Also, given Hightower’s difficult time in free agency this season, it is unclear whether Burfict will want to try his luck on the open market.

Eifert’s own injury history could hinder his financial prospects, though league sources indicate he is in line for a five-year pact with an AAV of roughly $9MM. Unlike Burfict, however, the franchise tag is an option for Eifert if the two sides cannot hammer out a long-term deal this year, although both parties are motivated to get something done.

Now for more from the AFC:

  • Brock Osweiler apparently still has a chance to start for the Browns in Week 1. Although Cody Kessler and DeShone Kizer are considered the most likely candidates to open the season under center, a lot will depend on Kizer’s development. As Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com writes, if Kizer does not develop as anticipated during training camp — he has progressed well to this point, but things can always change when the pads are on — then Osweiler could reenter the mix as a challenger to Kessler.
  • Patriots linebacker Rob Ninkovich is entering his contract year, but at this point, he does not foresee himself playing for anyone other than New England, as Mike Reiss of ESPN.com writes. Ninkovich was drafted by the Saints in the fifth round of the 2006 draft and spent several years with the Dolphins, but his career did not blossom until he signed with the Pats in 2009. Since 2010, he has posted at least four sacks per season as a versatile defensive end/linebacker, including three consecutive eight-sack seasons from 2012-14. He is so grateful for his time in New England that, when asked if he could envision himself playing for another club, he said, “I wouldn’t do that.”
  • Tamba Halis Twitter rant last night drew quite a bit of attention, but the Chiefs linebacker says he is not considering holding out and he has not been told he is not in the team’s 2017 plans. He said he simply wants to play more (Twitter link). Terez A. Paylor of the Kansas City Star says (via Twitter) that Hali did address the matter internally back in January, and he was told by head coach Andy Reid to just “keep getting better.” That obviously did not sit well with Hali, who apparently stewed about it for some time before unleashing a bit last night.
  • Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union wonders what, if anything, Trai Turner‘s recent four-year, $45MM extension could mean for Jaguars center Brandon Linder, who was drafted one spot behind Turner in the 2014 draft. Linder started his career at right guard but was moved to center last season after missing 13 games due to a shoulder injury in 2015. He has missed 15 total games in his career, and it sounds as if Jacksonville will simply allow him to play out his contract because of that injury history. If contract talks do commence this year, it will be interesting to see if Linder gets paid like a center or if he receives a deal that suggests he could return to right guard in the future.

Bengals Activate Burfict, Waive Roach

Vontaze Burfict is back. After serving his three-game suspension, Burfict has been activated in time for tonight’s game against the Dolphins, per a club announcement. To make room for Burfict on the 53-man roster, the Bengals have waived fellow linebacker Trevor RoachVontaze Burfict (vertical)

In January, Burfict was suspended after drilling Antonio Brown late in the Bengals’ AFC Wild Card playoff game against the Steelers. Burfict met with Roger Goodell in an effort to get his suspension reduced, but it was to no avail. The linebacker has a long history of controversial plays, including his hit on Ravens tight end Maxx Williams in Week 17 when Williams was nowhere near the ball.

Burfict, in his fifth NFL season, racked up 74 total tackles, one sack, two interceptions, and five pass deflections in ten games last year. Burfict is facing another shortened campaign thanks to his suspension, but he hopes to make up for lost time in a matter of hours.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bengals Notes: A. Jones, Burfict, Coyle

The latest out of Cincinnati, where the Bengals have started 1-2 on the season:

  • Bengals cornerback Adam Jones says he was “somewhat” close to signing with the Dolphins in the offseason, as Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald tweets. Miami was rumored to have interest in Jones, and the connection made sense given that former Cincinnati secondary coach Vance Joseph is now the defensive coordinator in South Beach. However, the Bengals prioritized Jones in free agency, re-signing him to a three-year deal that contains $6MM guaranteed.
  • Speaking of Bengals defensive backs, some in the club’s secondary room aren’t happy with the coaching techniques of new DBs coach Kevin Coyle, the former Miami DC who essentially swapped roles with Joseph, writes Beasley in a full article. One player, according to Beasley, believes Coyle is “coaching [the Bengals] not to lose instead of coaching them to win.” Cincinnati was lit up by the Broncos and Trevor Siemian on Sunday, and ranks 19th in defensive passing DVOA.
  • The Bengals have a roster exemption for linebacker Vontaze Burfict which will expire on Thursday, per Katherine Terrell of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Burfict is coming off a three-game suspension for repeated violations of the NFL’s safety protocols. Head coach Marvin Lewis says Cincinnati will make a roster move on either Wednesday or Thursday, but wasn’t sure whether Burfict would play against the Dolphins on Thursday, tweets Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Vontaze Burfict’s Three-Game Ban Upheld

Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict‘s three-game suspension has been upheld, reports Dan Graziano of ESPN.com (Twitter link). According to Graziano, Burfict’s appeal was heard by appeals officer – and former Pro Bowl linebacker – Derrick Brooks. The hearing took place prior to the Super Bowl, tweets Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer.Vontaze Burfict

[RELATED: Vontaze Burfict suspended three games]

We heard earlier today that Burfict was expected to meet with commissioner Roger Goodell sometime within the next week to discuss the discipline from the league. In fact, that meeting took place on Thursday, after the decision on the linebacker’s appeal had already been made, according to Graziano (Twitter links), who reports that Burfict’s agent, head coach Marvin Lewis, and NFL executive Troy Vincent were also present.

Since Brooks had already made his ruling on Burfict’s appeal, today’s meeting was more about discussing Burfict’s behavior, addressing how to avoid further problems and violations going forward, says Graziano.

Prior to receiving his suspension last month, Burfict was reportedly fined for safety-related violations four times in 2015, including a $50K fine for unnecessarily contacting an opponent who was out of the play in Cincinnati’s Week 17 game against the Ravens. That play, which can be viewed here, saw Maxx Williams run a route in the end zone and get drilled, even though the ball was nowhere near him.

The tipping point for Burfict came in Cincinnati’s Wild Card loss against the Steelers, when he committed a personal foul penalty on wide receiver Antonio Brown, hitting him in the head at the end of play late in the fourth quarter. The 15-yard penalty played a key part in the Bengals ultimately losing that game and being eliminated from the playoffs.

The Bengals’ schedule for the 2016 season isn’t yet known, but Burfict won’t be eligible to come off the reserve/suspended list until Week 4.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.