A few days ago there was a rumor that the Cincinnati Bengals were close to trading linebacker Vontaze Burfict to the Oakland Raiders but no such kind of transaction has materialized since. Now, and judging by a Friday report by Adam Schefter of ESPN, neither the Bengals nor the Raiders will likely be able to have the services of Burfict for the first four games of the 2018 regular season.
According to Schefter, Burfict is now facing a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s Performance-Enhancing Drug policy and that is pending an appeal. According to Schefter, Burfict’s appeal will center around the fact that he was on prescribed medication for the concussion he suffered on a hit last season from Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Ju-Ju Smith Schuster and that he suffered a shoulder sprain during the game against the Detroit Lions and was on prescribed medications for that injury as well.
Bengals’ LB Vontaze Burfict is facing a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s Performance-Enhancing Drug policy, pending appeal, league sources tell ESPN. No appeal date yet.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 16, 2018
Burfict is no stranger to fines and suspensions and he missed the first three games of the 2017 regular season as a result of the latter.
To add to this report by Schefter, the Bengals signed free agent linebacker Preston Brown to a one-year contract on Friday. Brown is a tackling machine and if Burfict winds up having to serve a four-game suspension, he might wind up being a starter to open the 2018 regular season. The Bengals also might address the linebacker position in the first round of this year’s draft as well.
We won’t know exactly when the Pittsburgh Steelers will face the Bengals in 2018 as of yet as the official NFL schedule won’t be released until April. Until that’s released, we’ll have to wait and see if Burfict stands to miss the Bengals first of two games against the Steelers. For all we know, the Bengals might just decide to part ways with Burfict in the coming weeks as you have to think they might be tired of him missing games every season at his own doing.
Burfict, who signed a three-year contract extension worth $33.234 million with the Bengals last September, only received a $3.3 million signing bonus as part of that deal and it was the only amount of guaranteed money given to him. He is, however, due a $2 million roster bonus at the end of March. In short, the Bengals can get out of his contract with very minimal dead money if they cut him before the end of March.