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Vontaze Burfict vows to change the way he plays, wants back in NFL

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Controversial Raiders linebacker is ready to play again after 12-game suspension

NFL: Preseason-Oakland Raiders at Arizona Cardinals
Vontaze Burfict
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Vontaze Burfict will be a free agent next week and he is free to play again as his 12-game suspension for a hit on Colts’ tight end Jack Doyle ended after the season.

Burfict talked to the NFL Network this week and said he will change his playing style and he is ready to get back in the game.

Here is part of what Burfict had to say to the network:

”I’m a tone-setter. But I can also be a vocal leader, and that’s what I was trying to do (last season with the Raiders) before I got suspended — trying to switch up my image and the way I play, the way people (perceive) me.

”And I’m not going to lie, bro. The first two, three years, everybody was saying, ‘(He’s) the villain.’ You guys think I’m a villain? You just go on and live with it. Then, it gets old, when you go out there and some fans think that I’m just out to hurt people. That’s not the case.”

Burfict, who the Raiders signed last year to be their middle linebacker, has been suspended several times by the NFL for his on-field tactics. He is probably making the right call by trying to change his playing style.

Will it work for him? His style has been his style his entire career.

I found the timing of his interview interesting. He is clearly giving all 32 teams a message that he will be a new player and that he’s ready to change.

I wonder if a team will believe him?

The fact that Burfict, 29, is making his case shows me he has yet to get an indication from the Raiders that they will bring him back. Burfict did say in the NFL Network interview that he has kept in touch with Raiders’ teammates and believes the door is open for a return. The Raiders were the only team to pursue Burfict last year and that was because he is close with Raiders’ defensive coordinator Paul Guenther from their Cincinnati days together. I wouldn’t be stunned if Burfict ends up back with the Raiders, but if I were the team, I’d move on.

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Oakland Raiders
Vontaze Burfict
Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Despite his vow to change his style, the NFL will still keep an eye on Burfict at all times. One mistake and he could be banned for the rest of his career.

If the Raiders sign him and make him a starter again, and he gets suspended, they are back to square one. While I wish Burfict the best, I’m not sure signing him is the wisest move the Raiders could make.