Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict signed an agreement with Paradigm Sports for "full-service representation" the company announced this week.
"I chose to sign with Audie Attar and Ryan Buescher of Paradigm Sports Management because I felt the guys were honest and hard working with a lot of industry knowledge that will help take my career to the next level," Burfict said in a press release. "They have put together a team of high-level executives that have a wealth of expertise and experience and believe in a team approach that best suits my needs. The Paradigm team will be working alongside my marketing manager, Rajiv Sharma to ensure I maximize my career on an off the field. I'm so excited to add this great group of professionals to my team."
Burfict is entering the final year of a three-year rookie deal and it's believed that the Bengals will work to get their star inside linebacker under contract for the long-term sooner rather than later. Even when his contract expires after 2014, the Bengals will own his rights for one more season due to his status as a restricted free agent. Figure that the Bengals won't be able to secure his services with a first-round tender, which figures to easily surpass $3 million -- a number that any number of teams would be willing to pay (and give up a first-round pick for).
However, a long-term deal with the Bengals figures to be more likely this offseason, along with several other players reportedly in the beginning stages of extension talks. Unlike last year, when the Bengals had a significant number of players entering free agency (working hard to keep as many as possible), the team will have more time and patience to address contract-year players like A.J. Green, Andy Dalton and Andrew Whitworth.
For his amount of production, Burfict is ridiculously underpaid, having base salaries of $480,000 in 2013 and a scheduled salary of $570,000 in 2014. The third-year linebacker, who draws Ray Lewis comparisons from his head coach Marvin Lewis, led the NFL with 204 tackles in 2013, becoming the first Pro Bowl linebacker for the Cincinnati Bengals since Jim LeClair roughly 37 years ago.