When the 2013 season began, Leon Hall, Geno Atkins and A.J. Green were the only players capable of making the claim of "best Bengals player".
By the time the season was over, Vontaze Burfict had just as much of a right to make that claim. The third-year linebacker led the NFL with 204 tackles in 2013, becoming the first Pro Bowl linebacker for the Bengals since Jim LeClair roughly 37 years ago. He did all of that in just his second NFL season and his first that he entered the year as a full-time starter.
For his amount of production, Burfict is underpaid to say the least, having base salaries of $480,000 in 2013 and a scheduled salary of $570,000 in 2014.
The NFL has released the numbers regarding performance-based pay in 2013, and once again, the Burfict was one of the biggest benefactors of it.
Bengals LB Vontaze Burfict led NFL in performance-based pay in 2012, was 2nd in 2013 ($315,848). Cowboys G Ronald Leary was 3rd ($307,104)— Brian McIntyre (@brian_mcintyre) March 24, 2014
Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict got $315,847 in performance-based pay for last season, he led NFL as rookie with $299,465 last year— Aaron Wilson (@RavensInsider) March 24, 2014
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 backer under contract for the long-term. For a player that gives it his all each and every week while playing through multiple injuries, it's about time he was rewarded for what he's done in helping the Bengals win 21 games over his two seasons in the NFL.
It's worth noting though that the Bengals will probably focus on Andy Dalton first hough, so it may be a while before Burict is extended.
Yes, I just typed those words.