The Cincinnati Bengals are finally moving on from linebacker Vontaze Burfict.
According to several media reports on Monday, the Bengals are releasing Burfict, who had been a member of the team since originally being signed by them in 2012 as an undrafted free agent out of Arizona State.
Burfict, who has a long history in the NFL of questionable hits and play during his seven seasons with the Bengals, has been fined and suspended for multiple games over the years. Several of those past infractions happened in games against the Pittsburgh Steelers and included him seemingly attempting to purposefully injure players. Just last season, Burfict was fined $112,000 for multiple unnecessary roughness incidents, including hits against Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown and running back James Conner in a Week 6 game.
Burfict’s last two seasons with the Bengals included him missing several games due to injuries and another seven due to suspensions for violating the league’s substance abuse policy and for multiple violations of player-safety rules. However, ahead of the 2017 regular season getting underway, the Bengals decided to sign Burfict to a three-year, $32.53 million contract extension that reportedly included $11.23 million guaranteed and a signing bonus of $3.30 million.
After the Bengals fired longtime head coach Marvin Lewis after the 2018 season had ended, and hired Zac Taylor as his replacement a short time later, the writing was on the wall that Burfict probably had already played his last game for the franchise. The Bengals reportedly had tried to trade Burfict prior to cutting him on Monday.
Burfict was scheduled to earn a base salary of $5 million in 2019 in addition to a $500,000 workout bonus and potentially another $2.25 million in per-game roster bonuses. As a result of his Monday release, the Bengals will now incur a dead money salary cap charge of $1,806,250.
It will now be interesting to see if any other NFL team has a desire to sign Burfict due to his long troubled history of questionable play on the field in addition to his most-recent injury history.
Below is a list of Burfict’s fines and suspensions he’s incurred in the NFL during his career with the Bengals, courtesy of the Cincinnati Enquirer and all the amounts are reportedly the original fine numbers issued prior to any potential appeals.
• Week 3, 2013: $10K — striking Packers’ Ryan Taylor in the groin
• Week 3, 2013: $21K — hit on defenseless player, Packers’ James Jones
• Week 8, 2013: $21K — spearing New York Jets’ WR Stephen Hill
• Week 6, 2014: $25K — ankle twisting Cam Newton and Greg Olsen
• Week 13, 2015: $69.4K — three separate unsportsmanlike incidents vs. Steelers
• Week 17, 2015: $50K — hit to defenseless tight end Maxx Williams away from play
• Wildcard Playoffs, 2016: $534K – three-game suspension — multiple violations of player-safety rules including hit on Antonio Brown.
• Week 6, 2016: $75K – stomping on leg of LeGarrette Blount.
• Preseason Week 2, 2017: $1.84 million – three-game suspension – multiple violations of player-safety rules including hit on Anthony Sherman.
• Week 7, 2017: $12.1K – unsportsmanlike conduct for kicking at Roosevelt Nix.
• December, 2017: $1.839M – four-game suspension, violation of NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy. Money lost includes bonus forfeitures and game checks.
• Week 6, 2018: $112,000 – multiple unnecessary roughness incidents, including hits against Antonio Brown and James Conner.
• Week 13, 2018: $53,482 – lowering his head on a hit against Broncos fullback Andy Janovich.