Raiders Rumors: Vontaze Burfict Agrees to 1-Year, $5 Million Contract with OAK

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 20, 2019

CINCINNATI, OH - DECEMBER 02:  Vontaze Burfict #55 of the Cincinnati Bengals takes the field for the game against the Denver Broncos at Paul Brown Stadium on December 2, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Broncos defeated the Bengals 24-10.  (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)
John Grieshop/Getty Images

The Oakland Raiders reportedly agreed to a one-year deal with veteran linebacker Vontaze Burfict on Tuesday, according to Tom Pelissero and Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.

Rapoport noted the contract is worth around $5 million including incentives.

Burfict spent seven seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals before they released him Monday. He made seven appearances in 2018, finishing with 33 combined tackles and three passes defended.

Few were surprised Cincinnati cut ties with the 28-year-old.

Lance McAlister @LanceMcAlister

Burfict had simply become a liability on the field and not worth the hassle with his shenanigans. He could not be counted on. This is a step to show you are somewhat serious about a new direction. Good for the #Bengals

Paul Dehner Jr. @pauldehnerjr

When you play as poorly as Burfict did last year on top of the headache he's been, nobody is trading anything with you to get him. That said, I'm sure Burfict will end up getting a shot with Guenther in Oakland.

Burfict hasn't played a full 16-game season since 2013, his second year in the league.

The NFL suspended him for three games in 2016 for multiple violations of the league's player-safety rules. He had a five-game ban reduced to three games to open the 2017 campaign, a punishment that stemmed from an illegal hit on Kansas City Chiefs fullback Anthony Sherman. Burfict then received a four-game suspension to start 2018 after he violated the NFL's performance-enhancing drug policy.

That's to say nothing of the various fines Burfict tallied up over the years.

Marc Sessler @MarcSesslerNFL

Along with multiple suspensions, Burfict has been forced to pay thousands out of pocket for a flurry of hits on defenseless players, flipping the middle finger to fans, ankle twisting, spearing & striking a player in groin. A real gem! https://t.co/xmdH4rOFgm

Most concerning, Burfict suffered the seventh known concussion of his NFL career last December. That number doesn't account for any concussions he might have suffered that he didn't report or team doctors didn't diagnose. At the time, some wondered whether he should continue playing in the NFL.

The risk in signing Burfict is obvious.

When he led the league in tackles (171) and was a Pro Bowler in 2013, he looked to have a lengthy, productive NFL career ahead of him. Instead, a combination of injuries and self-sabotage have combined to stunt his potential.

Given his age, things are unlikely to change significantly going forward.

If he can stay healthy and avoid the on-field problems that have plagued him in the past, Burfict might prove to be a productive defender for the Raiders. But that's the same calculation the Bengals made for five years, only to be disappointed each season.

This time could be different considering the stakes for Burfict. This could be his last shot at getting a meaningful role for an NFL team. Should he struggle in Oakland, he may have a hard time landing on his feet in another city.

Almost immediately after Burfict's departure from Cincinnati, Rapoport speculated the Raiders might have interest in him.

Oakland has taken drastic steps this offseason to improve after finishing 4-12 in 2018. The team acquired star wide receiver Antonio Brown from the Pittsburgh Steelers and signed wideout Tyrell Williams, offensive tackle Trent Brown and safety Lamarcus Joyner. Adding another experienced veteran defender fits with the theme of the Raiders' offseason.

Oakland also has a connection to Burfict through defensive coordinator Paul Guenther, who was on the Bengals staff from 2005 to 2017.