Vontaze Burfict

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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Raiders Interested In Brandon Marshall; Also Interested In Vontaze Burfict?

The Raiders are interested in former Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall, according to Mike Klis of 9News (via Twitter). Marshall, who saw his 2019 option declined by the division-rival Broncos, has attracted the attention of at least five clubs.

He does have a concerning injury history, but Oakland has very little firepower in its LB corps, and Marshall, who compiled 102 tackles and three sacks in 2017, would represent an immediate upgrade if he can stay healthy.

Vontaze Burfict would also represent an upgrade, and the Raiders, never a club to shy away from controversial players and big personalities, may also may be interested in the recently-released linebacker, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. The Bengals cut Burfict today after a seven-year run that included one Pro Bowl berth and a whole host of fines and suspensions, and though he may have lost a step or two, there is clearly a need for someone of his ability in Oakland.

In addition to their interest in Marshall and their potential interest in Burfict, the Raiders have also hosted Manti Te’o and Aaron Lynch, as Rapoport observes. Te’o, who just finished a two-year pact that he signed with the Saints in 2017, saw action in just five contests (two starts) last year, compiling 18 total tackles, but he did start 11 games in 2017 and played reasonably well. Plus, he is still only 28, and he would likely welcome a chance to sign with the Raiders given the playing time that might be available for him.

Unlike Burfict and Te’o, Lynch is an edge defender who can line up at DE or OLB. He was in for about 1/3 of the Bears’ defensive snaps in 2018, and he recorded three sacks in his 13 games played (three starts). The Raiders need someone who can get after the quarterback, and Lynch did post 12.5 sacks over his first two years in the league with the 49ers. At 26, he could be a low-risk, high-reward acquisition.

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Bengals Release Vontaze Burfict

It’s the end of an era in Cincinnati. On Monday, the Bengals released linebacker Vontaze Burfict

Burfict, one of the league’s most controversial players, has been a pillar of the Bengals’ defense throughout his seven year career.

Over the years, Burfict has helped to anchor the Bengals’ front seven with his hard-hitting style. Unfortunately, his aggression blurred the line when it comes to rules and safety regulations. In seven seasons, Burfict racked up whopping 14 total fines and/or suspensions from the league office, including three times in 2018. Last year, his sanctions resulted from PEDs and hits on Antonio Brown, James Conner, and Andy Janovich. All in all, Burfict lost $4.2MM and ten games for his violations.

By releasing Burfict before the final year of his contract, the Bengals will take on $1.8M in dead money. However, they’ll save $5.5M on this year’s cap. Meanwhile, Burfict should find a decent market for his services, though you can expect teams like the Steelers to pass on him given their history together.

Burfict, 29 in September, went undrafted in 2012 thanks to a bad showing at the combine and rumors of a failed drug test. Quickly, Burfict proved that belonged in the NFL. As a rookie, he compiled 127 stops in 16 games (14 starts) and followed up with a Pro Bowl nod and a league-leading 177 tackles in his second pro season.

When on the field, Burfict is a bonafide difference maker as a middle linebacker. But, because of his issues, Burfict may not garner offers with guarantees beyond 2019 like many of his MLB counterparts have this offseason.

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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.

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