Vontaze Burfict

Vontaze Burfict Sustained Seventh Career Concussion

During Cincinnati’s 26-18 loss to Cleveland on Sundary, linebacker Vontaze Burfict suffered his seventh career concussion which could put his career in jeopardy, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Katherine Terrell (Twitter link). 

The veteran linebacker had just returned to the field after missing the previous two games with a concussion, but couldn’t make it through the game before reentering the concussion protocol.

A Pro Bowl selection in 2013, Burfict played in all 16 games in each of his first two seasons but has failed to see the field for more than 11 contests since. While many of those absences have been suspension related due to illegal hits, the linebacker has still only managed to be on the field for seven games in 2018.

Burfict is signed through the 2020 season at a total of $11.2MM, not including bonuses. If Burfict is on the roster on March 31, 2018, he will receive a $2MM roster bonus.

Obviously, the contract details take a backseat to Burfict needing to seek what is best for his longterm health at this point.

 

Injury Updates: Crawford, Gurley, Foles

Cowboys defensive lineman Tyrone Crawford was carted off the field today following a scary collision with Buccaneers offensive lineman Ryan Jensen. Fortunately, it sounds like the veteran will be alright. Charean Williams of ProFootballTalk.com writes that a scan and MRI of Crawford’s neck came back as negative, and the lineman has been released from the hospital.

“Everything checks out very good,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. “I’m really pleased with the initial MRIs, all the examinations. He went on to the hospital and had those examinations. . . .He doesn’t seem to have structural issues at all.”

Crawford is having another productive season in 2018, compiling 34 tackles and a career-high 5.5 sacks. Pro Football Focus currently ranks Crawford 36th among 116 eligible interior defenders. If the lineman is forced to miss any time, the Cowboys could turn to former first-rounder Taco Charlton to fill in.

Let’s check out some more injury notes from around the NFL…

  • Rams running back Todd Gurley was forced to miss today’s win against the Cardinals, but it doesn’t sound like the Pro Bowler will be out for an extended amount of time. Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com reports that the injury is “really a day-to-day thing,” and the team will continue to evaluate the ailment. While Gurley’s status for next weekend is still up in the air, it sounds like the running back will be good to go come playoff time. Fortunately for the Rams, the team’s running game didn’t seem to miss a beat without Gurley, as recently-signed veteran C.J. Anderson finished today’s contest with 167 rushing yards and one touchdown on 20 carries.
  • Eagles quarterback Nick Foles was briefly knocked out of today’s win over the Texans after suffering a hit from Jadeveon Clowney. While backup Nate Sudfeld made a brief appearance, Foles was able to return to the game and lead Philly to a much-needed victory. It also sounds like the veteran’s status for next week isn’t in doubt, as Foles told reporters that he is doing “great” (via Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.com). The signal-caller did acknowledge that he had X-rays taken after the game.
  • DeSean Jackson played today despite being list as questionable with a thumb injury, but the Buccaneers wideout was knocked out of the second half of his team’s game against the Cowboys with a foot injury. As Williams points out, the veteran lost his shoe on his only reception of the game, and he subsequently limped to the sideline before “collapsing in pain.” It sounds like Jackson doesn’t have much of a future in Tampa Bay, and today may have marked his final game with the organization. If the receiver doesn’t play next week, he’ll have finished the season with 41 receptions for 774 yards and four touchdowns.
  • Vontaze Burfict‘s return from a concussion didn’t last very long. The Bengals linebacker was knocked out of today’s game against the Browns with a concussion (via Darin Gantt of ProFootballTalk.com). The veteran had just returned from a two-game absence, and he showed his dissatisfaction with today’s concussion by “angrily snatch[ing] his arm away from a member of the team’s athletic training staff.” This would mark the 28-year-old’s seventh reported concussion since he entered the NFL in 2012.
  • A pair of 49ers wideouts suffered injuries today, but they don’t sound as bad as they may have looked. Matt Barrows of The Athletic tweets that rookie receiver Dante Pettis suffered an MCL injury, which is much better than the ACL injury that some were expecting. The second-round rookie has been productive in recent weeks, and he’s hauled in 24 receptions for 446 yards and five scores this season. Meanwhile, teammate Marquise Goodwin suffered an Achilles injury, but Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area tweets that the injury isn’t serious. After a breakout season in 2017, Goodwin has struggled this year, compiling 20 receptions for 366 yards and four touchdowns in 10 games.

North Notes: Big Ben, Ravens, Stefanski

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger suffered a rib injury in last week’s upset loss to the Raiders, and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports that Big Ben actually cracked his ribs (video link). Pittsburgh was reportedly unable to make that determination during the game due to a faulty X-ray machine in Oakland, but Rapoport says the injury should not limit Roethlisberger going forward. The Steelers face a critical matchup against New England this afternoon, so they will need Roethlisberger to battle through.

The team is unlikely to have starting running back James Conner when they take on the Patriots, but Rapoport tweets that Conner should be back for next Sunday’s game in New Orleans.

Now for more from the league’s north divisions:

  • The Ravens have frequently seen their defensive coaches and coordinators obtain promotions from rival clubs, and they could see more of the same in 2019. Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports writes that Baltimore defensive coordinator Don Martindale, in his first year leading the team’s defense after six years as its linebackers coach, is garnering attention around the league as a legitimate head coaching candidate. La Canfora suggests that Martindale could even replace John Harbaugh in Baltimore if the Ravens elect to part ways with Harbaugh.
  • We heard last week that plenty of teams with expected head coaching vacancies are interested in what the Ravens plan to do with Harbaugh, and Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk writes that the buzz around Harbaugh is continuing to build. Baltimore could retain the man who may be the hottest head coaching candidate in 2019, but it could also leverage the interest in Harbaugh’s services and try to trade him.
  • La Canfora writes that Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski, who was just promoted to the role earlier this week, was already being considered for head coaching jobs before he took over as Minnesota’s OC. Obviously, how the club’s offense performs down the stretch and perhaps into the playoffs will go a long way towards determining Stefanski’s 2019 prospects, but La Canfora reports that teams are conducting preliminary research on him, and a strong playoff push could solidify his chances of running his own team next season.
  • Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict suffered a concussion earlier this month, and he will miss his second consecutive game when the Bengals take on the Raiders today. As Paul Dehner Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer writes, Burfict is experiencing several worrying trends. 2018 marks the third consecutive year that Burfict has served a suspension to start the season and suffered a December concussion to close it out. He has now sustained a concussion in five of the last six seasons, and between the missed time for injury and for suspension, Dehner suggests that the Bengals could be ready to move on. The league is moving away from players with Burfict’s skill set, Burfict is not playing particularly well when he is on the field these days, and the club could save $6.8MM against the cap by cutting him this offseason.

 

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.