The Cincinnati Bengals extended the contract of linebacker Vontaze Burfict on Thursday, three days before the team’s first game of the 2017 NFL season.
Unfortunately, Burfict won’t be on the field for that game as he serves a three game suspension due to an illegal hit (as deemed by the NFL) from the preseason.
The contract extension for Burfict is said to max out at $38.68 million but knowing the Bengals, and considering Burfict’s injury and suspension history, this isn’t a straightforward deal. In fact, the only guaranteed money in the contract is a signing bonus of $3.3 million.
Pro Football Talk has the rest of the numbers on how the deal, a three year extension that keeps Burfict in Cincinnati through the 2020 season, is structured.
Per a source with knowledge of the contract, here are the details of the deal:
1. $3.3 million signing bonus.
2. 2017 base salary of $7.936 million.
3. 2018 roster bonus of $2 million, due March 31, 2018.
4. 2018 base salary of $3.81 million.
5. 2019 base salary of $5 million.
6. 2020 base salary of $6.188 million.
7. Annual per-game roster bonuses $2.25 million in 2018, 2019, 2020.
8. Offseason workout bonuses of $500,000 for 2018, 2019, 2020.
9. He also has escalators based on Pro Bowl appearances of $250,000 per year, which doubles for two and triples for three, which can (with three Pro Bowl appearances from 2017 through 2019) add another $1.5 million.
This deal was clearly smartly constructed. Burfict receives large chunks of money through per-game roster bonuses in each of the three extension seasons. $132,352 are on the line in each game during those seasons. So Burfict surely is going to want to stay healthy and stay off the suspension list to earn that money. Burfict also will receive money due to Pro Bowl appearances, which will never be easy to come by for the linebacker.
Many NFL players aren’t really fans of Burfict’s due to his physical style of play that has caused a few injuries around the league. Of course, plenty of players are fans of the Bengals’ linebacker, too, but making it into the Pro Bowl will require the support of NFL players and NFL fans. Burfict will need to work hard to achieve that feat.
Because the only guaranteed money comes right now, as a signing bonus, the Bengals could cut ties with Burfict at any point. So if the linebacker hasn’t learned from his suspensions and continues to get fined and/or suspended for his act-first, think-second style of play, the Bengals could easily move on from Burfict.
But at the same time, if Burfict stays on the field and produces at the level we all expect him to, then the Bengals will be more than happy to pay Burfict for his services. Let’s hope he racks up all of those incentives and produces at the highest of levels for Cincinnati.