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Should Bengals move on from Vontaze Burfict following 3rd suspension in 3 years?

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If Vontaze Burfict’s suspension holds up then the Bengals have a pretty easy out if they want to move on from the linebacker.

Kansas City Chiefs v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Vontaze Burfict is currently staring down a possible four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s performance enhancing drug policy. He is going to attempt to appeal the suspension, but if he doesn’t win then the Bengals may have an easy way out of the contract with the often-troubled linebacker.

According to Ian Rapoport, if Burfict loses his appeal, $11.3 million in his contract can be void. Burfict signed a three-year, $32,534,000 contract extension with the Bengals prior to the 2017 NFL season that keeps him in Cincinnati through the 2020 season. But, the Bengals can get out of the contract with relative ease at any time, especially if Burfict’s suspension holds up.

Per Spotrac, Burfict has the following incentives in his contract:

  • 2018 Per Game Active Bonus: $140,625 ($2.25M, 10 LTBE)
  • 2019 Per Game Active Bonus: $140,625 ($2.25M)
  • 2020 Per Game Active Bonus: $140,625 ($2.25M)
  • 2018-20 Workout Bonus: $500,000
  • Annual Pro Bowl Base Escalator: $250,000 (multiplies with additional births)

Burfict is also due a $2 million roster bonus on March 31.

The nature of the contract adds an interesting twist to the league’s decision on Burfict’s case. If they accept his excuse for why he tested positive for PEDs then we can pretty much go on like nothing happened. If he doesn’t win his appeal this will mark yet another season where the team has to be without their talented linebacker for at least one game.

For what it’s worth, Adam Schefter has captured what Burfict’s case will be in his appeal and it sounds somewhat valid, but also who knows what the NFL will think:

Burfict’s appeal will center around the fact that he was on prescribed medication for the concussion he suffered on a hit from Steelers’ wide receiver Ju-Ju Smith Schuster on Dec. 4 as well as the fact that he suffered a Grade 3 shoulder AC sprain during the Detroit Lions game on Dec. 24 and was on prescribed medications for this injury as well, per another source.

Burfict has faced suspensions in both of the last two seasons for safety violations. He missed three games for each of those suspensions to start out both the 2016 and 2017 seasons. Burfict has already lost more than $3.8 million of potential earnings due to suspensions and fines. He’s been fined at least nine times by the NFL for safety violations.

There is no doubt that Burfict is a very talented linebacker, and he earned his contract when he signed it. However, his availability has been suspect over the past few seasons between suspensions and injuries. Is he worth the headache? Is it time for the Bengals to move on from their star-crossed linebacker?

In six seasons with the Bengals, Burfict has only played two 16-game seasons, both of which came in his first two years in the league. Since then he played five games in 2014, 10 in 2015, 11 in 2016 and 10 in 2017. He’s suffered a number of injuries including numerous concussions, which have caused him to miss time in addition to the time he’s missed due to suspensions. The Bengals always say, “the best ability is availability” and Burfict doesn’t possess availability.

In six years with the Bengals, Burfict has accumulated 381 tackles including a league-leading 115 tackles in 2013. He’s also added on 5 interceptions, 27 passes defensed, 4 forced fumbles, 5 fumble recoveries (including 1 for a touchdown) and 8.5 sack.

What do you think?

Poll

Should the Bengals move on from Vontaze Burfict?

This poll is closed

  • 28%
    Yes.
    (559 votes)
  • 36%
    No.
    (703 votes)
  • 35%
    Need to see what happens in the appeal.
    (685 votes)
1947 votes total Vote Now

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