It took awhile, but it’s finally official.
The Bengals have announced that linebacker Vontaze Burfict has signed a new deal. It puts him under contract through 2017.
Burfict, the NFL’s leading tackler in 2013, was eligible for a new deal because he wasn’t drafted. It’s a strange donut hole in the current labor deal, which forces incoming rookies to wait three years to renegotiate, if drafted.
“Vontaze is a special talent; he has shown us that from his first day here,” coach Marvin Lewis said. “He is a load physically and he’s extremely competitive, but what really makes him stand out is the instinct and feel he has for the game. It’s something born in him, you can’t coach a player to naturally react the way he does in all situations. This signing is a great move for the future of our defense.”
“It’s unusual to sign a player this early in his career to a contract extension, but Vontaze is a player who merits this,” executive vice president Katie Blackburn said. “He has proven to be an exceptional find for us, and we are happy to reward him now for his accomplishments. It’s good for him and good for our team.”
Burfict plunged through the draft due to a variety of concerns, from a failed drug test at the Scouting Combine to questions regarding whether he could control his temper on the field to a bad performance (both on the field and before the media) in Indianapolis to a bad Pro Day. Mike Mayock described Burfict at one point as non-draftable. Burfict remained optimistic, despite getting no pre-draft visits or workouts.
The Bengals didn’t draft Burfict, but they took a chance on him as an undrafted free agent. It paid off for the Bengals, and it’s now paying off for Burfict.