The NFL summer just keeps on humming along as players get ready to tease fans with all the excitement to come in the 2014 season with August's preseason games.
There is still plenty that can happen for teams between now and the regular season, both on and off the field. It's easy to get sucked into the day-to-day minutiae of training camp and lose sight of the rumors regarding players on the outside looking in and big-picture things like contract negotiations.
Here is the latest roundup of rumors regarding contract talks and an interesting free-agent situation.
Vontaze Burfict Contract Talks Reportedly Stalled
Vontaze Burfict has quickly become one of the most feared linebackers in the league, even though he isn't paid like one. He went undrafted coming out of Arizona State and is entering the final year of a three-year contract.
According to ESPN's Adam Caplan, Burfict's negotiations with the team aren't moving along at the moment:
#Bengals starting WLB Vontaze Burfict and the team appear to have reached a contract impasse, according to a source.— Adam Caplan (@caplannfl) July 31, 2014
This is a deal the Bengals absolutely have to get done. Rare is the 23-year-old linebacker who can lead the league in tackles in just his second season.
He's adept in both pass coverage and stopping the run, racking up 115 solo tackles, eight passes defensed, two forced fumbles and an interception in 2013.
Burfict's attitude and vicious hits are on display at all times, per The Cincinnati Enquirer's Paul Dehner Jr.
Burfict just popped TE Hewitt and knocked his mouthpiece in the air on catch over middle. Live action out here today.— Paul Dehner Jr. (@pauldehnerjr) July 30, 2014
Former Bengals great Takeo Spikes was impressed by Burfict's play after seeing him up close and in person.
"What’s impressive to me is I didn’t know he was that big. He’s explosive, he’s powerful. He’s kind of Johnny On The Spot. He’s always around the ball,” Spikes said, via Bengals.com's Geoff Hobson. "He's a stat-sheet stuffer. He's going to field everything in and I like that about him."
The worry here is that throwing money at Burfict might make negotiations with Andy Dalton tougher, and signing both to big deals could handicap the team from fleshing out a competitive roster in the future. However, Dalton still has to prove he can lead the Bengals to the next level, while players like Burfict and Geno Atkins can form the spine of a terrifying defense for years to come.
Alex Boone Reportedly Holding His Ground
San Francisco 49ers right guard Alex Boone has yet to reach an agreement on a new contract with his team, although the organization has reached out to him, according to Matt Barrows of The Sacramento Bee:
General manager Trent Baalke and other members of the 49ers have reached out recently to holdout Alex Boone, according to multiple sources, but the team's starting right guard remains resolute in his stance. As it stands now Boone ranks 43rd in the NFL in average salary for guards. He signed his current deal in 2011 when he was a backup at tackle. He's seeking a new deal that will pay him commensurate with a starting guard, his role since the beginning of the 2012 season.
Boone is a stalwart on the 49ers' mammoth offensive line. He is a strong run-blocker and played in every single regular-season game since the beginning of the 2011 season. His deal currently runs through 2015 and is set to pay him $3.2 million in base salary over the next two seasons, per Spotrac.
Niners fans will be hoping the team can come to a swift resolution, as their depth at offensive line isn't very promising. Boone is not only the starting guard—he can also serve as a backup at offensive tackle thanks to his prior experience at the position.
Falcons Still Interested in Nick Barnett
According to ESPN.com's Vaughn McClure, the Atlanta Falcons might not be sold on the linebackers they currently have in camp and could look to bring in Barnett:
Veteran inside linebacker Nick Barnett worked out for the Atlanta Falcons in June but wasn't signed. That didn't mean he fell out of consideration. In fact, the 33-year-old remains on the Falcons' radar and could be brought in, depending on how the linebacker situation plays out through training camp. The team apparently was most impressed with Barnett's workout but signed veterans Tim Dobbins and Pat Angerer instead.
It's a good move by the Falcons to keep tabs on Barnett, who can still contribute at the relatively advanced age of 33. Both Tim Dobbins and Pat Angerer are younger than Barnett, but his stats over the past few seasons stack up well with the two players the Falcons chose to sign.
|Player||Games||Starts||Tackles||Assisted Tackles||Passes Defensed|
Angerer is 27 years old and a safe bet to make the squad, but Dobbins has never quite caught on in his career and was rarely seen on the field for Houston last year.
Barnett could be a solid veteran pickup, but the Falcons might have to snag him sooner rather than later if injuries continue to pile up around the league and other teams get word of his strong workout from June.