Vontazt Burfict has long been one of the most controversial and volatile players in the NFL, with a reputation for being a ‘dirty’ player and for headhunting. Today, he was let go by the Bengals, with whom he has spent the entirety of his seven-year career.
BREAKING: @Bengals release LB Vontaze Burfict. (via @TomPelissero) pic.twitter.com/i2smy7cpGc— NFL (@NFL) March 18, 2019
Early on in his career, Burfict was considered one of the best young linebackers in the NFL and earned a Pro Bowl berth in 2013. In 2016 and 2017, he began the season suspended for violations of the NFL’s safety rules, and in 2018 began the season suspended for PED use.
He hasn’t been the same player over the last few seasons, dealing with a hip injury and concussions, which one would assume come from his particularly violent style of play. He has, in fact, had no fewer than seven concussions in his career.
With all that being said, Burfict has a long history of brilliant play as a linebacker, a position of serious need for the Raiders. Some of his best years came playing under former Bengals and current Raiders defensive coordinator Paul Guenther, and Burfict’s play slipped last year with Guenther in Oakland. Burfict is only 28 years old and he wouldn’t break the bank, coming off a few subpar seasons.
If he is healthy enough to regain the form that made him a star early in his career, Burfict would be a massive upgrade over what the Raiders have at linebacker currently. His familiarity with and proficiency in Paul Guenther’s system gives him a huge advantage and could pair with Tahir Whitehead, who is going into the second year of a three-year contract, to form a formidable OLB tandem.
Burfict’s style of play does hearken back to the Raiders’ style of old, when they would strike fear into other teams with their level of violence and brutality. He has always seemed like a guy who would have fit in on a Raiders team from the 1970s, and if there is one thing the Raiders lacked last season it’s guys who can consistently make plays and be intimidating forces on the field.
Potential issues with Burfict could be, if we thought he was flagged a lot before, just wait until he wears Silver and Black. He’d be flagged for sneezing on the field. Secondly, one of his major fines was levied for a personal foul against one of the newest Raiders, Antonio Brown, and there has long been bad blood between the Steelers and Bengals, in no small part due to the efforts of Burfict. Would Brown and Burfict be able to co-exist as teammates or would it be a powder keg?
In the end it probably all comes down to health. Burfict was released for financial reasons and also because of injuries, but he is on the right side of 30 still and we’ve seen players regain their form in a system that fits them and in a new environment, both of which would be the case for Burfict in Oakland. So what wins out, his talent or his reckless abandon?
Should the Raiders sign LB Vontaze Burfict?
This poll is closed
Yes, bring him in
No, too risky