Vontaze Burfict

Extra Points: Burfict, Tannehill, Browns, Herbert, 2019 draft

Vontaze Burfict seems to always be involved in controversy. The Bengals linebacker only recently returned from a suspension that cost him the Bengals’ first four games of the season, and found himself once again the subject of a lot of criticism due to several hits he made during Cincinnati’s loss to the Steelers last week.

Burfict was slapped with a massive fine, and the next time he makes any sort of hit that’s seen as dirty he’ll be hit with another suspension, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link). Rapoport writes that Burfict’s “next similar action to last week will result in suspension for a player the league office has spent countless hours with to try to get him to adjust his play.” Additionally, a source told Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk that the only reason the league didn’t suspend Burfict this past week was that they were “concerned that a suspension would not hold up on appeal.” Apparently the NFL wanted to suspend him, but thought it was likely to be overturned by independent arbitrators, and wanted to avoid the embarrassment of losing in court.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • “The Dolphins are in wait-and-see mode on QB Ryan Tannehill, whose complex shoulder issues limit his range of motion”, Rapoport tweets. Tannehill has now missed two straight games with a mysterious shoulder injury, and his return date is an open question at this point. The Dolphins have a short week before they take on the Texans in a Thursday night game, and Rapoport adds that it’s “hard to see him playing Thursday night.”
  • The Browns should look to re-sign receiver Terrelle Pryor, opines Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. Pryor was recently released by the Jets, and although there seemed to be some bad blood between the two sides after Pryor left the Browns in free agency, a reunion would make some sense. The Browns’ receiving corp has been depleted by injuries, and Pryor could definitely help.
  • Despite being widely seen as the best draft-eligible quarterback prospect, Oregon signal caller Justin Herbert is likely to not enter the draft and return for his senior season, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. A lot of people have identified Herbert as a potential number one overall pick, but it’s “far more likely that the junior actually remains in school for another year”, writes La Canfora.

Bengals Place Tyler Eifert On IR

Vontaze Burfict is back. On Friday, the Bengals activated the linebacker and formally placed tight end Tyler Eifert on injured reserve. 

Burfict was suspended for the first four weeks of the season thanks to a PED suspension. He’s no stranger to bans, having drawn multiple punishments from the league office for violating safety rules, but this was his first for banned performance enhancers. Over the last five years, he’s missed 32 regular season games thanks to injuries and suspensions. Despite it all, Burfict remains one of the very best linebackers in the NFL. In 2017, Burfict managed 69 tackles and 1.5 sacks in ten games.

Eifert has also missed a boatload of time over the last five years, playing in just 28 regular season games out of a possible 80. His latest injury, a broken ankle, will rule him out for the remainder of the year.

It’s yet another tough blow for Eifert, who is one of the league’s most talented tight ends. Before he exited the Bengals’ game against the Falcons, Eifert was displaying some of his old form and had four catches for 38 yards and a touchdown. Through four games, the former first-rounder had 15 grabs for 179 yards in total.

The oft-injured Eifert re-signed with the Bengals this offseason on a one-year, $5.5MM deal. When he hits free agency in March, he’ll likely be looking at yet another one-year platform deal, perhaps with less in base compensation.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Ingram, Edelman To Return In Week 5

As we approach Week 5 of the NFL season, several NFL players are returning from four-game bans. As noted by Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter), that list includes notables such as Saints running back Mark Ingram, Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman, Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict, Cowboys defensive tackle David Irving, Chargers defensive tackle Corey Liuget, Colts running back Robert Turbin, Raiders cornerback Daryl Worley, Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith

Players do not count against a team’s roster max while suspended, so clubs will have to make room for these players before adding them for Week 5. There will be some tough decisions to make, but the upside is clear in most of these cases, particularly when it comes to offensive weapons like Ingram and Edelman or defensive pillars like Burfict and Irving.

Alvin Kamara should remain the focal point of the Saints’ running game, but the return of Ingram will give opposing defenses something else to think about. And, as we saw in the first three weeks of the Patriots’ season, Edelman has been sorely missed.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Raiders Notes: Mack, Penn, Lee, Key

Khalil Mack and the Raiders are continuing their months-long staredown, an uneventful one at that, and have not made any recent progress, Scott Bair of NBC Sports Bay Area notes. The subject of the Raiders’ wherewithal to pay their top player the guaranteed money he seeks still lurks, even if no official report has suggested this. Mark Davis‘ status as one of the league’s most cash-poor owners may become more relevant if the Rams agree to a deal with Aaron Donald soon, thus establishing a neighborhood for a Mack contract, Joel Corry of CBS Sports writes. Reggie McKenzie does not expect Mack to report without a contract, and Corry adds the Raiders’ agreement with Donald Penn on an extension after he ended his holdout probably doesn’t serve as relevant for the Mack situation. Due to the Raiders having not submitted an offer this offseason, Corry does not anticipate one would emerge shortly after he reported to the team.

Here’s the latest out of Oakland:

  • The Raiders indeed want Penn to accept a pay cut, Bair reports. This prospect surfaced earlier Wednesday, with a possible restructure being on the table as well. Penn, however, denied on Wednesday morning the Raiders have approached him about a reduction, Vic Tafur of The Athletic notes (subscription required). Penn has a cap number of $8.38MM. If the Raiders release him, Bair notes they would save $3MM — the non-guaranteed part of Penn’s $6MM base salary. And Penn would also miss out on $1.75MM in per-game roster bonuses. But Penn’s camp may be inclined to ride this out, leaving Jon Gruden to consider the prospect of a rookie (Kolton Miller) protecting Derek Carr‘s blind side, Tafur writes. Carr suffered a season-ending injury in 2016 and struggled with a back ailment last season.
  • Currently residing on the PUP list due to Lisfranc surgery in December, Penn is improving, Gruden said (via Bair, on Twitter). The Oakland HC said Penn is getting close and is hopefully back soon.
  • Gruden’s spoken highly of Derrick Johnson after adding the longtime Chiefs stalwart this offseason, but Tafur notes second-year linebacker Marquel Lee may now be better positioned to start at middle linebacker. Johnson could still factor in on passing downs, per Tafur, even at age 35. But he adds rookie UDFA Jason Cabina is seeing work in nickel sets as well. Lee impressed the Raiders last year, but that optimism soon gave way to the team signing NaVorro Bowman and installing him as the starter. The Raiders discussed a Bowman return this offseason, but the sides couldn’t agree on terms. A Vontaze Burfict trade didn’t get too far off the ground either, per Tafur.
  • If/when Mack re-emerges, new DC Paul Guenther is planning a passing-down set featuring Mack, Irvin, Arden Key and whichever of the Mario Edwards/Maurice Hurst/P.J. Hall trio is playing the best at that time, Bair notes. Key’s inclusion as the No. 3 man here is interesting, considering Edwards’ experience as an inside rusher and Key’s own fall to the third round. But the LSU product, once considered a possible first-rounder, has impressed the Raiders this summer.

Bengals LB Vontaze Burfict Loses Appeal

Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict has been suspended without pay for the first four games of the 2018 season, per a league announcement. This means that Burfict has lost his appeal to overturn his ban for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.

Burfict is no stranger to suspensions, but this marks his first ban for PEDs. In the past, Burfict has been sidelined for violations of league safety rules. Between injuries and suspensions, Burfict has missed 28 regular season games over the past four years. That tally will climb to at least 32 this year.

Despite it all, Burfict remains one of the very best linebackers in the NFL. In 2017, Burfict managed 69 tackles and 1.5 sacks in ten games.

In theory, the suspension could have financial implications for Burfict beyond the missed paychecks. Now that he has lost his appeal, the guarantees in his three-year, $33MM contract will void. With that $11.3MM guarantee off the books, the Bengals have the ability to move on from Burfict without dead money left on the cap. The 27-year-old (28 in September) is slated to be under contract with the team through 2020.

Although he is out for the first four games of the year, Burfict will be permitted to participate in all offseason and preseason practices and games. This marks the third consecutive year in which Burfict will serve a suspension to start the season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Boldin, Burfict, Mathieu, Saints

Anquan Boldin may not be done playing in the NFL, as he said today that he hasn’t made a decision on the future of his career, according to Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Boldin signed a one-year deal with the Bills last August, but retired just two weeks later. The 37-year-old expressed some interest in returning during the 2017 season, but the Bills had no intention of releasing him. Buffalo has now done so, as it cut Boldin from the reserve/retired list this week. For what it’s worth, the Patriots and Boldin reportedly had mutual interest last September.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict is expected to argue that his four-game performance-enhancing drug suspension should be overturned given that he was using prescription medications to recover from injury after he’d already been ruled out for the season, reports Adam Schefter of ESPN.com. If Burfict’s ban is upheld, the remaining $11.3MM guarantee on his contract will void, meaning Cincinnati could potentially move on without any financial consequences. As Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk writes, Burfict is hoping an arcane section of the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement will save him, but the league is unlikely to overturn his suspension.
  • Former All Pro defensive back Tyrann Mathieu had an offer to return to the Cardinals at an $8MM salary, tweets Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic. The 25-year-old Mathieu declined the overture, and instead signed with the Texans for one year and $7MM. the Mathieu was a Pro Bowler and one of the NFL’s best defensive backs as recently as 2015, but he’s struggled with injuries and ineffectiveness over the past two seasons. Last year, Mathieu managed to start all 16 games, but only graded as the league’s No. 61 cornerback among 121 qualifiers, per Pro Football Focus.
  • Although the Saints received a salary cap credit as a result of their Nick Fairley grievance, the grievance itself has not been settled, per Josh Katzenstein of the New Orleans Times-Picayune (Twitter link). That $3MM credit was only related to Fairley’s signing bonus, so the Saints are presumably trying to recoup a portion of Fairley’s base salary after he was forced to sit out the 2017 campaign with a heart condition. For what it’s worth, Fairley hopes to play during the upcoming season, but it’s difficult to imagine any team medically clearing him.
  • The Steelers curiously signed restricted free agent punter Jordan Berry to a one-year extension with a similar salary to the RFA tender, and Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com has explained the club’s rationale. Berry, a native Australian, would have been considered unemployed if he returned to his home country without an RFA tender in place, meaning his work authorization paperwork could have taken extra time. Given that he’s getting married this year, Berry didn’t want to deal with any confusion, so Pittsburgh obliged him by giving him a one-year deal, the value of which has sent been altered to match the original round tender figure of $1.907MM.

Bengals’ Vontaze Burfict Facing Suspension

Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict is facing a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s Performance Enhancing Drug policy, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). He’ll presumably appeal, though no hearing date has been set as of this writing. 

Burfict is no stranger to suspensions, but this marks his first potential ban for PEDs. In the past, Burfict has been sidelined for violations of league safety rules.

In the 2016 playoffs, Burfict was penalized for an illegal hit to the head on Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown, which led to a suspension to start the 2016 season. In 2017, he was handed a five-game ban for a hit made on Chiefs fullback Anthony Sherman in the preseason. That suspension was later reduced to three games.

Between injuries and suspensions, Burfict has missed 28 regular season games over the past four years. Still, he is among the very best at his position. Last year, Burfict managed 69 tackles and 1.5 sacks in his partial season.

If Burfict loses his appeal, the guarantees in his three-year, $33MM contract will void, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter) notes. If that $11.3MM guarantee is wiped out, the Bengals will have the ability to move on from Burfict – if they want to – without fiscal penalty.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC North Notes: Browns, Haden, Suggs

Josh Gordon‘s long road back the NFL is almost complete as the team is likely to reactivate him later in the week, according to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. Cabot reports that the team has the ability to activate him to the roster today, but it unlikely to do so in order to hold onto a roster spot.

The talented wide receiver is expected to see his first regular season action in two years when the Browns take on the Chargers on Sunday. Gordon has made his mistakes in the past, but has caused no such problem since he returned to practice last week.

With the Browns potentially finishing the year as one of the league’s worst teams ever, being able to see an impact player return is certainly some much needed good news. He’ll likely start alongside fellow wideout Corey Coleman should everything go according to plan throughout the practice week.

  • In other Browns news, head coach Hue Jackson said after practice today that the coaching staff will dicuss whether to replace rookie kicker Zane Gonzalez after his struggles continued in Week 12, reports Cabot in a separate tweet. However, Jackson did note that Gonzalez did well to bounce back and convert two field goals after he missed an attempt from 43 yards earlier in the game. Parting ways with the rookie kicker would represent another draft blunder as Cleveland used a seventh round pick in order to bring in the 22-year-old from Arizona State.
  • The Steelers managed to hold off the scuffling Packers on Sunday night football yesterday, but were still clearly exposed in the secondary by some talented playmakers and a backup quarterback. Part of the reason for the offensive display could be due to the absence of veteran cornerback Joe Haden. While the team does expect the former Brown to return, it’s unlikely that the defensive back will see the field for a few more weeks, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports (Twitter link). La Canfora did add that the Week 13 status for rookie wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster remains a little more up in the air at this point.
  • Terrell Suggs is currently playing in his 14th year in the league, though the 35-year-old is still a more than a capable puss rusher coming off the edge. However, while Suggs’ play has kept him as a valuable member of the defense, the veteran knows that his career could be winding down this season, according to Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com. Hensley notes that cutting Suggs this summer could give the Ravens an extra $4MM in cap space, but despite the harsh realities of the league Suggs knows that ultimately the NFL is a business. “I would really love to be in one place my whole career. Not many players can say they did that,” Suggs told ESPN before his 207th game for the Ravens. “But I also understand this is a business and that might not happen. I’m pretty much making my peace with it now. I’m preparing myself for it just in case. What will be, will be.” Suggs does still lead the team with 7.5 sacks and has forced three fumbles, so it should be noted that actually getting rid of the veteran edge defender could make the Baltimore defense worse. The team has made a point in drafting three young pass rushers in the last two seasons, including Matt Judon, Tyus Bowser and Tim Williams. Nevertheless, Suggs can only play well on the field and let the chips fall where they may at this point.
  • The Bengals have avoided a suspension to one of their key defenders in linebacker Vontaze Burfict, according to Jim Owczarski of Cincinnati.com. The energetic defender was flagged for unnecessary roughness for hitting a defenseless receiver in yesterday’s win over the Browns. Burfict has made a number of boneheaded plays throughout his career, which include him getting ejected for making contact with an official and for his unsportsmanlike penalty against the Steelers earlier in the season. He’ll avoid game punishment here, but a fine is certainly possible.

Extra Points: Jets, Goodell, Burfict, Prosise

The Jets have no plans to bench Josh McCown in favor of youngster Christian Hackenberg, as NJ.com’s Connor Hughes writes. “This isn’t Triple-A,” quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates said Tuesday. “We’re going to play the best players that give us an opportunity to win at all positions. That’s our philosophy. Josh is our starter.”

Though just 1.5 games behind Buffalo for the AFC’s last wildcard spot, New York is sitting last in the East with a 4-6 record and might be better served seeing what the team has in Hackenberg or Bryce Petty sooner rather than later with McCown, at 38 and on a one-year deal, obviously not the team’s future at the position.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • League spokesman Joe Lockhart says the impetus for signing commissioner Roger Goodell to a new deal despite having 18 months remaining on his current contract were a series on notable events on the horizon, according to ESPN’s Jim Trotter (Twitter link) Those milestones include the new collective bargaining agreement in 2020 and network TV deals in 2021 and 2022. “Sense that getting an extension beyond those dates was in the best interest of (NFL),” Lockhart said.
  • Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict will not be suspended for making contact with a referee in Sunday’s game vs. Tennessee, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter) hears. Instead, it will be reviewed using the standard process for a possible fine. Burfict was ejected from the game after picking up a pair of personal-foul penalties on one drive midway through the second quarter.
  • 49ers safety Adrian Colbert could possibly miss the team’s upcoming game with Seattle after breaking his thumb vs. New York, coach Kyle Shanahan tells reporters and ESPN’s Nick Wagoner (Twitter link). The injury, which will require surgery, was sustained early in the first quarter but Colbert managed to play the rest of the way. Should he not be ready for the Seahawks, Antone Exum and Dexter McCoil are potential replacements, according to NBC Sports Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco (Twitter link).
  • Jaguars safety Tashaun Gipson is happy to have left Cleveland and hopes Jacksonville can “hang 40 on them” when the team’s meet up this weekend, writes ESPN’s Michael DiRocco. The veteran defender spent his first four seasons with the Browns before joining the Jags in 2016 and apparently still harbors some ill feelings to the organization, which he also criticized for not drafting Carson Wentz and Deshaun Watson.
  • Seahawks running back C.J. Prosise could return in time for the postseason, head coach Pete Carroll told reporters, including Bob Condotta of The Seattle Times. The coach said the injury will have Prosise sidelined six weeks, but he must sit out eight games after being placed on IR.

Minor NFL Transactions: 9/28/17

Here are today’s minor moves.

  • To make room on the roster for Vontaze Burfict‘s activation from a three-game suspension, the Bengals waived linebacker Hardy Nickerson Jr. The son of the former All-Pro linebacker, Nickerson signed with the Bengals in May as a UDFA. He made the team out of training camp and played in each of Cincinnati’s first three games this season.
  • The Raiders signed linebacker Boseko Lokombo to their practice squad and released defensive lineman Max Valles from that unit.