Burfict hears call through 2020.
In another display of Mike Brown's commitment to his players on Thursday the Bengals announced they extended WILL linebacker Vontaze Burfict for three more years with a contract reportedly calling for nearly $39 million that puts him in Cincy through the 2020 season and his 30th birthday.
That would make the 1,000-1 longshot their highest paid defender and puts him in the top five among NFL inside linebackers. It's believed the extension can max out to between $38-39 million and the new deal figures to work out to close to $11 million per year, behind only Carolina's Luke Kuechly ($12.7 million), Cleveland's Jamie Collins ($12.1 million), and the Rams' Mark Barron ($11 million), according to spot.rac.com.
Cincinnati Bengals host practice at Paul Brown Stadium Practice Fields 9/7/2017
The Bengals gave Burfict just $1,000 to sign as an undrafted free agent out of Arizona State in 2012 and he has a chance to cash it for more than $50 million.
The deal comes on the heels of the Bengals last week crafting Burfict's appeal of a five-game suspension levied by the NFL for a hit in the Aug. 19 pre-season game. Not only that, Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis, a member of the NFL's competition committee, publicly disputed the league's claims that Burfict hit Kansas City fullback Anthony Sherman from the side or the back and that Sherman was out of the play.
The Bengals thought there was enough visual evidence to overturn the suspension and when it was reduced to three games it marked the second straight season Burfict began the year serving a three-game suspension for violations of player safety rules.
It's believed Burfict gets about $11 million up front, most of it in salary this year that is going to reduce the Bengals' remaining salary cap from about $15 million to about $5 million, which about taps out the Bengals and their pad that accounts for incentives and injuries.
"Vontaze is still one of the young, emerging talents within the league," Lewis in a news release. "We have worked hard at training, developing and retaining talented players. It's pleasing that Vontaze has made this commitment to be a part of the organization going forward. It was important to reach an extension before the start of the season and we look forward to having Vontaze back with the team in a few weeks."
Burfict, who is set to retun to the club Sept. 25 one day after his 27th birthday, is prohibited from doing media interviews set up by the team during his suspension.
As tight end Tyler Eifert heads into his free-agent year, the franchise player tag looks to be an option as they try to sort through his inscrutable resume of injuries.
Paul Guenther is using the rookie Tez as an example this week.
Since Burfict signed a $20 million extension in 2014 following his Pro Bowl season, he has missed 22 games through suspension and injury it's believed his new extension includes incentives, play-time milestones, and healthy work-out bonuses. But while he's a lightning rod for controversy outside Paul Brown Stadium, he has steadfast supporters in the building, ranging from Brown, Lewis, and defensive coordinator Paul Guenther.
Even though he won't be at PBS for three more weeks and games, Burfict has been a subject Guenther has been pointing to this week as an example to his young players. And Guenther has plenty of them with six players of his 23 who have taken no NFL snaps heading into Sunday's opener (1 p.m.-Cincinnati's Channel12) at PBS against Baltimore.
It will be recalled that Burfict, an undrafted rookie, came off the bench the Thursday night before the third game in 2012 to start when Thomas Howard tore his ACL in practice and led the NFL's sixth-ranked defense in tackles.
"The best guys play and you better be ready no matter how long you've been here," Guenther said.
The pros and cons stacked up pretty clearly for the Bengals, like the $1.4 million he's lost in fines. What attracted the club to Burfict, in the end, is how good of player he is when he's healthy and the fact he'll turn only 27 the week he returns for the Oct. 1 game in Cleveland.
And now Burfict is the guy surrounded by kids like rookie WILL backer Jordan Evans and rookie pass rushers Carl Lawson and Jordan Willis, as well as 2016 draft picks making their NFL debut Sunday in nose tackle Andrew Billings and cornerback William Jackson.
"That's the thing about it. Tez is going to be around and be with all these good young players," Guenther said. "I think we're all excited about what we've got for new players, particularly in the front seven, and you add them into the mix with Tez and that's something we think is pretty exciting."
The Bengals extended George Iloka last season.
Since Guenther became the defensive coordinator in 2014, the Bengals have kept their younger defenders that were the core of the 2015 AFC North division champs. Since '14 they've extended Burfict, starting cornerback Adam Jones, starting safeties George Iloka and Shawn Williams, as well as core special teamer and back-up linebacker Vincent Rey. In a way, they also extended right end Michael Johnson after a year hiatus in Tampa.
Now next in their sights starting after this season is extending a pair of Pro Bowl defensive linemen in Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap, up after the 2018 season and no doubt they'll try to get them done before next season like they did in 2013.
"As a coach, that's all you ask for from the organization," Guenther said. "They stand by their guys and we draft and retain them. That's the big thing. They keep them and it's great for the continuity."
A visual look at the 2017 Bengals roster.