Vontaze Burfict

NFL Upholds Vontaze Burfict’s Suspension

Vontaze Burfict‘s appeal was unsuccessful. The Raiders linebacker will remain suspended for the rest of the 2019 season, the league announced. Appeals officer Derrick Brooks upheld the ban Wednesday.

The NFL suspended Burfict for the Raiders’ final 12 games, citing a pattern of on-field actions — one that hit a breaking point when Burfict leveled Jack Doyle during Week 4’s Raiders-Colts game.

This may end Burfict’s Raiders tenure and run in the NFL, considering the number of suspensions the longtime Bengals linebacker has racked up. Burfict has not played more than 11 games in a season since 2013. The former UDFA has run into 14 fines or suspensions since coming into the league in 2012.

After the Bengals released Burfict this offseason, he caught on with former Cincinnati DC Paul Guenther in Oakland. Burfict will not collect the remainder of his one-year, $1.15MM base salary from the Raiders, who went on to upset the Colts after Burfict’s ejection and defeated the Bears in London without him. Tahir Whitehead and Nicholas Morrow played in Oakland’s nickel set against Chicago.

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Latest On Raiders LB Vontaze Burfict

There could be more trouble for Raiders linebacker Vontaze Burfict. Burfict was tossed out of last Sunday’s game against Indianapolis following his helmet-to-helmet hit on Colts tight end Jack Doyle, and the NFL informed Burfict in a letter several days ago that it found another helmet-to-helmet hit from the same game, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). The league will use both hits in its case against Burfict as it moves to suspend him for the rest of the season.

Burfict’s agent, Lamont Smith, has predictably taken exception to the league’s reviewing Colts-Raiders tape to find another illegal (but unpenalized) hit in addition to the one that led to Burfict’s ejection. In a full-length piece, Rapoport says Smith will argue that the NFL has singled out Burfict and is treating him differently than other players. But, given that Burfict’s history of violent play is largely unprecedented, that may be a tough argument, and Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports says Burfict is likely to lose his appeal.

Indeed, Burfict’s actions on Sunday, combined with his 13 suspensions and fines across seven seasons with the Bengals, make this a tricky case for the veteran and his reps. It’s also worth noting that Hall of Famer Derrick Brooks – who upheld Burfict’s three-game suspension in 2016 after his controversial hit on Antonio Brown – will be presiding over the hearing.

 

If the 12-game suspension stands, it will go down as the longest one ever levied for an on-field incident.

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AFC Rumors: Chiefs, Colts, Burfict, Allen

Although Tyreek Hill returned to practice this week, the Chiefs‘ offense will continue to operate without its premier wide receiver Sunday. The Chiefs ruled out Hill, but Damien Williams is expected to return to action, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Kansas City’s starting running back missed the past two games with a knee injury, leading to LeSean McCoy and second-year back Darrel Williams splitting time in the backfield. Damien Williams amassed 154 scrimmage yards and scored in the Chiefs’ divisional-round win over the Colts last season. Signs point to Hill returning in Week 6.

Shifting first to the team traveling to Missouri for this week’s Sunday-nighter, here’s the AFC’s latest:

  • Darius Leonard will miss his third consecutive game due to a concussion. Both Colts starting safeties will be out, with Clayton Geathers (concussion) joining Malik Hooker on the mend. Hooker is recovering from a knee injury. T.Y. Hilton got in a second straight limited practice, putting Indianapolis’ top wideout in line to return, but rookie receiver Parris Campbell underwent a procedure on his knee and will be out for an unknown time period, Mike Wells of ESPN.com notes. Campbell has played in each Colts game this season but missed preseason time with a hamstring malady.
  • The Bengals were expected to take their lumps this season. The Broncos‘ 0-4 start has surprised. But executives around the league are not anticipating a firesale for either franchise. “I agree they absolutely should be shopping players (ahead of the Oct. 29 trade deadline), but I have my doubts,” an NFL exec told CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora. “We’re applying reason and logic, but I’m not sure those teams will fully embrace what needs to be done.” Denver, which did trade Demaryius Thomas before last season’s deadline, has standouts from its previous Super Bowl team on expiring contracts — Chris Harris and Emmanuel Sanders. The Bengals house veterans A.J. Green, Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap. But Green is still recovering from injury and the latter two are early into 2018 extensions.
  • Josh Allen logged a full practice Friday, putting the Bills‘ starter on a path toward returning Sunday against the Titans. Allen suffered a concussion against the Patriots. Matt Barkley would start if the Bills, who have a Week 6 bye, play it safe with their offensive centerpiece.
  • Vontaze Burfict faces a rest-of-the-season suspension that could well end his career. The polarizing Raiders linebacker’s appeal is scheduled for Tuesday, and ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler tweets his argument will be based around the lack of precedent for a 13-week suspension ensuing because of one hit. However, the NFL said in its letter to the oft-suspended linebacker this ban was issued for a pattern of on-field decisions, rather than merely his collision with Jack Doyle. This considered, Burfict’s argument may not be successful.

Latest On Raiders’ Vontaze Burfict

The appeal hearing for Raiders linebacker Vontaze Burfict will take place on Tuesday, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter) hears. As it stands, Burfict is facing a suspension that would sideline him for the rest of the season. 

Per the collective bargaining agreement, these sessions are heard by an appeals officer jointly appointed by the NFL and NFLPA. This hearing will be presided by Hall of Famer Derrick Brooks, who upheld Burfict’s three-game suspension in 2016 after his controversial hit on Antonio Brown.

The NFL moved to keep Burfict off the field for the final 13 weeks of the ’19 campaign after he drove his head into Jack Doyle‘s helmet on Sunday. Burfict’s history won’t help him here but this is, by far, the lengthiest suspension ever set against a player for an on-field infraction, so Burfict may have a good chance at getting the suspension reduced.

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Raiders’ Vontaze Burfict To Appeal Ban

As expected, Raiders linebacker Vontaze Burfict will appeal his season-long suspension, agent Lamont Smith tells Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). If Burfict cannot overturn the ban, he’ll be sidelined for the remaining 12 games of the 2019 season. 

The NFL moved to keep Burfict off the field for the final 13 weeks of the ’19 campaign after he drove his head into Jack Doyle‘s helmet on Sunday. This is, by far, the lengthiest suspension ever levied against a player for an on-field infraction, so Burfict may have a good chance at getting the suspension reduced.

Obviously, Burfict’s history of rules violations is playing a big role here. Burfict has racked up 14 fines and/or suspensions from the league office throughout his career, including three league office penalties in 2018. Throughout his career, Burfict’s tenacity has been a major double-edged sword and source of controversy. He’s been one of the league’s most feared defenders for all of the right, and all of the wrong, reasons.

Regardless of what happens in his appeal, Burfict figures to be on extremely thin ice with the NFL moving forward. It’s worth noting that the veteran will be eligible for free agency once again in March, after the expiration of his one-year, $2MM deal with Oakland.

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Raiders’ Vontaze Burfict Facing Season-Long Ban

Vontaze Burfict is facing a season-long suspension for his late-game hit on Colts tight end Jack Doyle, a source tells ESPN.com’s Chris Mortensen (on Twitter). Burfict has a history of player safety violations and the NFL appears poised to send a message.

There were no mitigating circumstances on this play,” NFL V.P. of Football Operations Jon Runyan said in an open letter to Burfict. “Your contact was unnecessary, flagrant and should have been avoided. For your actions, you were penalized and disqualified from the game. Following each of your previous rule violations, you were warned by me and each of the jointly-appointed appeal officers that future violations would result in escalated accountability measures. However, you have continued to flagrantly abuse rules designed to protect yourself and your opponents from unnecessary risk. Your extensive history of rules violations is factored into this decision.”

A suspension was viewed as likely after Burfict’s ejection from the game, but a season-long ban was not necessarily expected. Burfict may fight the suspension, but he’s facing an uphill battle – in seven seasons, Burfict has earned 14 total fines and/or suspensions from the league office, including three times in 2018.

In Sunday’s game against the Colts, Burfict lowered his helmet and rammed it into the helmet of Doyle. It’s an awful look for Burfict, given his checkered past, and a not-so-great look for the Raiders, who made Burfict a captain this offseason.

If Burfict is indeed suspended for the length of the season, it would be the longest ban for an on-field act in league history, according to ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter). The previous watermark is believed to belong to Albert Haynesworth, who drew a five-game suspension for stomping on the face of Cowboys center Andre Gurode.

Burfict, 29, has 628 tackles and 8.5 sacks to his credit over the course of seven seasons with the Bengals and 1/4 season with the Raiders. In the Raiders portion, he has tallied 18 total stops.

After beating the Colts 31-24, the Raiders are at the .500 mark as they head into Week 5 against the Bears. They’ll try to advance to 3-2 as they take the field, likely without Burfict.

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LB Notes: Broncos, Burfict, Jets, Judon

As we wind down the final week of the 2019 offseason, let’s look at a few of the league’s linebacker situations. The Broncos are one of the two teams opening training camp next week, joining the Falcons, and they’ve had a quietly interesting year at this spot.

  • Denver passed on adding an inside linebacker to replace five-year starter Brandon Marshall, but the report of the team being ready to make a major investment at this spot was accurate. Not only did the Broncos plan to select Devin Bush at No. 10 overall, they wrote the Michigan linebacker’s name on a first-round card, Mike Klis of 9News notes. Broncos VP of player personnel Matt Russell told draft rep Derrick Thomas to write Bush’s name on their card but instructed him not to turn it in, Klis adds. They ended up trading the pick, which became Bush, to the Steelers for additional draft capital.
  • The Broncos plan to use Todd Davis and 2018 fourth-rounder Josey Jewell as their starting inside ‘backers, and while that may leave the team vulnerable in coverage, the coaching staff has hatched an idea to help combat that. Denver drafted Oregon edge rusher Justin Hollins in the fifth round, and instead of hoping he becomes strictly an off-the-bench pass rusher, the Broncos plan to deploy the four-year Duck as a base-set outside ‘backer and an inside player in nickel packages, Klis writes. Hollins ran a 4.50-second 40-yard dash at the Combine, leading the team to see if he can be a solution to its problems covering tight ends in recent years.
  • Marshall and Vontaze Burfict will add veteran presences to the Raiders’ long-understaffed linebacking corps, and DC Paul Guenther said (via NBC Sports Bay Area’s Scott Bair) Burfict’s arrival will free him up to utilize more of his playbook than he did last season. Burfict’s issues will not lie with the former Bengals DC’s playbook but rather staying on the field, which has proved to be a persistent issue for the talented player in his six-year career.
  • Avery Williamson will slide to the Jets‘ weakside linebacker spot to accommodate C.J. Mosley, Brian Costello of the New York Post notes. The market-shattering free agent addition will become Gang Green’s defensive play-caller, though both are set to be three-down ‘backers in Gregg Williams‘ defense. In his previous Jets role, Williamson totaled a career-high 120 tackles and graded as Pro Football Focus’ No. 18 traditional linebacker last season.
  • The contract Ravens outside ‘backer Matt Judon will likely focus on most in terms of establishing his value is likely Za’Darius Smith‘s Packers deal, Jeff Zreibec of The Athletic writes (subscription required). Judon’s 19 sacks in three seasons are more than Smith’s 18.5-sack total in four, the the latter parlayed his impressive contract year into a four-year, $66MM deal. It is not yet known if the Ravens and Judon have begun extension discussions, but both he and third-year inside linebacker starter Patrick Onwuasor are due for 2020 free agency.

Raiders Sign LB Vontaze Burfict

The Vontaze Burfict-to-Oakland rumors turned out to have legs. The Raiders met with Burfict on Tuesday and are signing the veteran linebacker, Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero of NFL.com report (Twitter link). It’s a one-year, $2MM deal that includes $300K guaranteed, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter) hears.

Despite a polarizing reputation, the 28-year-old linebacker could roughly earn up to $5MM on this deal, Rapoport tweets. Incentives are involved, and it’s unclear yet how much of $5MM figure for which those account.

A day after the Bengals released him, Burfict will receive another chance. He will reunite with DC Paul Guenther in Oakland and be in position to be one of the Raiders’ first-string linebackers. While Burfict has often lined up on the outside in past Guenther schemes, the Raiders plan for him to play middle linebacker and have Tahir Whitehead stay outside, Adam Caplan of Sirius XM tweets. Burfict called Guenther soon after being cut, he said (via Vic Tafur of The Athletic, on Twitter).

The new Raider, obviously, comes with a controversial past. He is a perpetual suspension risk, having paid more than $4MM in fines.

Burfict has not played more than 11 games in a season since the 2013 campaign. He has completed just two 16-game seasons — 2012 and ’13 — and saw suspensions and on-field struggles in 2018 lead to his Cincinnati exit. This also places Burfict on the same team as Antonio Brown. The two have a history, with the linebacker concussing the wide receiver during a 2015 playoff game. That hit led to Brown missing the Steelers’ subsequent divisional-round game and Burfict drawing a suspension to start the 2016 season. He was also suspended to start the 2017 and ’18 seasons.

The Bengals cut bait on Burfict with two years remaining on his deal. In addition to having a reputation for delivering dirty hits, the former UDFA has reportedly sustained seven concussions himself. These factors do not paint a picture of reliability, but the Raiders are going to take a chance on Burfict’s skills.

This signing may result in Brandon Marshall, rumored as a Raider target, to seek another gig elsewhere. Though, considering Burfict’s history and the Raiders’ lack of surefire answers on their defensive second level, the longtime Bronco still may be an option.

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AFC West Notes: Raiders, Burfict, Chiefs

Antonio Brown was a victim of one of linebacker Vontaze Burfict‘s many dirty hits, going down with a concussion after Burfict arguably head-hunted the former Steelers wideout in the 2015 playoffs. But now that Brown and Burfict are now teammates on the Raiders, the ex-Bengals linebacker isn’t worried about getting along. “It’s all positive, man,” Burfict said, according to Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review Journal. “He’s a great player. He’s going to be in the Hall of Fame one day. Honestly, I’m just going to approach him like I do all my other teammates, introduce myself, all that good stuff. There’s nothing negative over here. We’re all on the same team.” Burfict, 28, inked a one-year deal with Oakland on Tuesday just one day after being released by Cincinnati.

Here’s more from the AFC West:

  • In addition to visiting with safeties George Iloka and Curtis Riley on Wednesday, the Raiders are also hosting free agent cornerback Tyler Patmon, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. Patmon, 28, appeared in 49 total games over the past four years while spending time with the Cowboys, Dolphins, and Jaguars, but only started four of those contests. Last season, Patmon played in 12 games for the Jaguars, seeing roughly 30% playing time on both defense and special teams. Oakland is signed ex-Detroit cornerback Nevin Lawson earlier tonight to play alongside projected starters Gareon Conley and Daryl Worley.
  • The Chiefs met with tight end Neal Sterling on Tuesday, reports Howard Balzer (Twitter link). If signed, Sterling would compete with the likes of Alex Ellis and Deon Yelder to replace Demetrius Harris — who recently signed with the Browns — as Kansas City’s No. 2 tight end behind Travis Kelce. A seventh-round pick of the Jaguars in 2015, Sterling played for the Jets in each of the past two seasons. He managed six catches in five games last year before going down with a season-ending concussion.
  • Former Raiders/Chiefs corner Sean Smith has been reinstated by the NFL, per Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). Smith was suspended indefinitely in November 2018 after being charged with felony assault. He spent part of last year in prison, but was released over the summer. Now entering his age-32 campaign, Smith’s play had already begun to deteriorate even before his ban, meaning he’s unlikely to ever return to the NFL.

Raiders To Meet With Vontaze Burfict

Linebacker Vontaze Burfict will meet with the Raiders on Tuesday, sources tell Tom Pelissero and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). Burfict’s old defensive coordinator, Paul Guenther, is in Oakland, so this could be a natural fit. 

Of course, there are some obvious barriers to a Burfict-Raiders deal, including the presence of Antonio Brown in Oakland. In 2015, Burfict leveled Brown with a hit that garnered a suspension and heavy fine. Given Brown’s temperament, the Raiders may want to ask the two men to bury the hatchet before actually signing Burfict.

From a football perspective, a deal would make sense. The Raiders are in the market for linebackers and they recently hosted free agents Manti Te’o and Aaron Lynch. Also, it’s likely that Burfict can be had on a relatively inexpensive shorter term deal, which could hold appeal for a club that has committed serious years and dollars to players this offseason.

In addition to Te’o, Lynch, and Burfict, the Raiders are also said to have interest in former Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall.

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