Vontaze Burfict

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.

AFC North Notes: Burfict, Browns, Suisham

Shortly after word broke a month ago that Vontaze Burfict would face a three-game suspension for repeated on-field safety violations, reports indicated that the Bengals linebacker would meet with commissioner Roger Goodell to discuss the penalty. That meeting, which Burfict hopes will help get his suspension reduced, hasn’t happened yet, but it’s set to take place within the next week, according to Coley Harvey and James Walker of ESPN.com.

Here’s more from out of the AFC North:

  • Browns director of football research Ken Kovash has received a promotion from the team, a source tells Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com (Twitter links). The team is still determining his new title, but Kovash is expected to help new VP of player personnel Andrew Berry run the Browns’ scouting department.
  • Chris Boswell converted 29 of 32 field goal tries for the Steelers in 2015, but veteran kicker Shaun Suisham, who spent the season on IR, fully intends to reclaim his job this year, as he tells Chris Adamski of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “The first thing I need to do is get healthy,” said Suisham, who continues to recover from a torn ACL. “If I’m healthy, I think I will be in good position to get my old job back.”
  • Few NFL teams restructure contracts as frequently as the Steelers do, according to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com, who takes an in-depth look at why Pittsburgh is constantly moving around money, how it benefits the club, and how it can backfire as well.
  • Hue Jackson‘s first major challenge will be carrying out a culture change in the Browns‘ locker room, Bud Shaw of Cleveland.com writes. Shaw wonders if the Browns will now put more emphasis on character in the draft now that Jackson is part of the organization.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

Vontaze Burfict To Meet With Roger Goodell

Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict is scheduled to have a sit-down in the coming days with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, a source close to Burfict tells Coley Harvey of ESPN.com. Burfict hopes that his meeting will lead to his three-game suspension being reduced. Vontaze Burfict (vertical)

On Monday night, the NFL suspended Burfict for the first three games of this upcoming season for “repeated violations of safety-related playing rules.” Burfict’s latest and worst offense, of course, came late in Saturday’s AFC Wild Card playoff game against the Steelers when he leveled Antonio Brown. The Steelers wide receiver was coming across the middle of the field when Burfict drilled Brown in the head, leaving him with a nasty concussion. The latest word on Brown is that he will probably not be able to play this weekend against the Broncos. Pittsburgh will have running back DeAngelo Williams back in the lineup against Denver, but they will be playing at a serious disadvantage if Brown is sidelined.

Burfict was previously been 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 tight end Maxx Williams run a route in the end zone and get leveled by Burfict, even though the ball was nowhere near him.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

 

Vontaze Burfict Suspended Three Games

Vontaze Burfict has been suspended without pay for the first three games of the 2016 season for repeated violations of safety-related playing rules, the NFL announced. Burfict, of course, drilled Antonio Brown late in Saturday’s AFC Wild Card playoff game against the Steelers. Vontaze Burfict (vertical)

Burfict, a talented linebacker, has a long history of dirty plays on his resume. His late-game hit against Brown across the middle of the field, however, drew the ire of football fans everywhere and a suspension seemed to be inevitable. His agent says that he will be appealing the decision, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Burfict has three days to formally file his appeal.

Burfict has previously been 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.

Thanks to his concussion, Brown’s status is very much in jeopardy for the Steelers’ Sunday showdown against the Broncos.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Sunday Roundup: Wood, Burfict, Koetter

As the Vikings and Seahawks do battle in frigid Minneapolis, let’s take a look at some links from around the league:

  • New Lions president Rod Wood admits to not having any football experience, but no one was especially concerned about that, as Wood is expected to handle the business side of the club while new GM Bob Quinn will handle the football side. But as Kyle Meinke of MLive.com writes, Detroit’s press release announcing Quinn’s hire noted that Quinn would report to team ownership and to Wood, which suggests that Wood could be wielding more power than initially believed.
  • Unsurprisingly, Bengals LB Vontaze Burfict is facing a suspension for his hit on Antonio Brown last night, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter).
  • ESPN’s Ed Werder believes it is “unlikely” that the Bengals will part ways with head coach Marvin Lewis (Twitter link), and Mark Maske of the Washington Post lays out the reasons for his belief that Lewis should stay.
  • Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel believes the Packers‘ efforts this season have been hampered by GM Ted Thompson‘s lack of in-season roster moves to address the team’s weaknesses. Since 2010, Green Bay has been awarded just two players on waivers, and Thompson has gone to the practice squad 70% of the time to fill vacancies on the 53-man roster.
  • Roy Cummings of the Tampa Tribune tweets that Dirk Koetter is still the leading candidate for the Buccaneers‘ head coaching job, though Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times tweets that Koetter “really impressed” the 49ers during his interview with San Francisco yesterday. Tampa Bay also interviewed Panthers DC Sean McDermott yesterday.
  • Gus Bradley is taking his time with the Jaguars‘ search for a new defensive coordinator and has yet to establish a deadline for the decision, according to Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida-Times Union.
  • Texans unrestricted free agents Ben Jones and Jared Crick both expressed their desire to remain in Houston, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (via Twitter).
  • Meanwhile, two notable players have declared that they will enter the NFL draft: Arkansas RB Alex Collins (Twitter link via ESPN’s Joe Schad) and Utah State LB Nick Vigil (Twitter link via Tony Pauline of DraftInsider.net).

AFC Notes: Parker, Osemele, Bengals, Bills

Continuing a trend that the Miami Herald’s Armando Salguero’s observed throughout this decade, a disconnect between the Dolphins‘ front office and coaching staff’s formed based on the usage of the team’s draft picks.

This season, Miami’s front office wanted first-round pick DeVante Parker to play more often than he did prior to becoming a regular down the stretch, Salguero reports.

Previous philosophical differences involved 2013 first-rounder Dion Jordan and 2013 fourth-round selection Dion Sims, whom then-GM Jeff Ireland wanted Joe Philbin to play more than he was, with a similar disconnect occurring two years prior in the form of Tony Sparano and Ireland disagreeing on which players the team would cut prior to the start of the 2011 season.

Such disharmony has been new to the Dolphins, with previous coaches Don Shula, Jimmy Johnson or Nick Saban having full decision-making autonomy. Salguero adds that new personnel man Mike Tannenbaum did not escalate this push for Parker to see the field sooner as Ireland did with Sparano and Philbin regarding former prospects.

Let’s look at some more AFC items as Week 14 shifts into its night-game sector.

  • Kelechi Osemele ventured back to tackle Sunday in place of the underwhelming James Hurst and wants to stay there, Jon Meoli of the Baltimore Sun reports. Osemele, who began his career at the Ravens‘ right tackle before becoming one of the NFL’s premier left guards over the past two-plus seasons, moved to left tackle in a Ravens effort to increase their line’s overall talent level. This is significant because the former second-round pick will be one of the top offensive linemen available in free agency if he does not reach an accord with the Ravens before the new league year begins. The former Iowa State cog started 38 games at left tackle for the Cyclones. Osemele expressed desire to be Baltimore’s left tackle of the future. “I sure hope so,” Osemele told media about a desire to stay on the edge. “I would definitely love to be the guy for the Ravens into the future, as long as I can keep performing at a high level.” Baltimore placed high-priced, but injury-prone left tackle Eugene Monroe on IR on Saturday. Signed to a five-year, $37.5MM contract in 2014, Monroe has $6.6MM worth of dead money left on his deal.
  • If Andy Dalton misses the rest of the season as he’s expected to, it will cost him a chance at a $5MM escalator in his contract, according to CBS Sports’ Joel Corry (on Twitter). The Bengals‘ starting quarterback needs to play at least 80% of the snaps, which he’s done for four straight seasons, to earn this bonus.
  • Conversely, Michael Crabtree‘s enjoying a better week financially. The Raiders‘ newly extended wideout earned an additional $400K by catching four passes Sunday, ESPN.com’s Field Yates reports (via Twitter), giving him 70 for the season.
  • An unpenalized threat resided at the root of the Bengals-Steelers pregame fight, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports. After Vontaze Burfict‘s tackle of Le’Veon Bell resulted in the star Pittsburgh runner’s season-ending knee injury in the teams’ previous meeting, Steelers linebacker Vince Williams sent out a tweet that Burfict and other Bengals regarded as a death threat, Florio writes. Burfict confronted Williams, who previously deleted the tweet and apologized, before the game and took action because the NFL didn’t, Andrew Whitworth told PFT. Florio writes that Williams’ social media threat violates the NFL’s Personal Conduct Policy.
  • The 15 penalties whistled against the Bills in their loss to the Eagles riled up the coaching staff to the point that one of them can be heard screaming at the officials while walking to the locker room that the 15 infractions — for 101 yards — were a “disgrace to the NFL,” Joe Buscaglia of WKBW reports (on Twitter). Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk points out Bills first-year defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman as the likely culprit.

Bengals Activate Vontaze Burfict From PUP

The Bengals will be receiving some defensive reinforcement this weekend as they put their undefeated record on the line against the Steelers. The team announced today (via Twitter) that they have activated linebacker Vontaze Burfict from the physically unable to perform list. To make room on the active roster, the team has released receiver Greg Little.

The former undrafted free agent hasn’t played for the Bengals in more than a year, and the 25-year-old underwent microfracture surgery on his left knee during the winter. Following a rookie campaign where he started 14 games, Burfict established himself as one of the league’s tops young linebackers, compiling 171 tackles, three sacks, an interception, and a forced fumble in 2013. His performance earned him a four-year, $20MM contract extension in 2014.

Paul Dehner Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer tweets that the Bengals will likely ease the linebacker back into play, and it’s more likely that Burfict treats the performance like a “preseason ramp up.” The player echoed that sentiment when discussing his inevitable return.

“I’m pretty sure it’s going to be a tough game,” Burfict said (via Jim Owczarski of Cincinnati.com). “Who hasn’t played in a year and come plays 70, 80 snaps in one game? So I’m just looking forward to contributing as much as I can.”

Little briefly saw the field for the Bengals in 2014, but he’s yet to make an appearance in 2015. In 54 career games with Cincinnati and the Browns, the 26-year-old has 161 catches for 1,890 yards and eight touchdowns.