The Bengals today signed LB Vontaze Burfict to a contract extension running through the 2017 season. Burfict’s original contract ran through this season, and had that contract run out, he would have been a restricted free agent for 2015.
Bypassed by NFL teams in the 2012 NFL Draft, Burfict has established himself as one of the most productive college free agent signees by any NFL team in recent years. He has led the Bengals in tackles by wide margins in each of his two seasons, and he led the NFL in tackles in 2013 according to leaguewide press box statistics. He was credited by the Bengals coaching staff last season with 204 tackles, 94 more than the second-place player, and he was voted to the Pro Bowl and to a second-team spot on the Associated Press All-Pro team.
“Vontaze is a special talent; he has shown us that from his first day here,” said head coach Marvin Lewis. “He is a load physically (6-1, 255) 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.”
Burfict also led the Bengals last season in tackles-for-loss (eight), and he tied for the front-seven lead in passes defensed (10). He had 3.0 sacks, two fumble recoveries and one forced fumble. On Nov. 17 vs. Cleveland, he scored a TD on a 13-yard return of a fumble that he forced, and he also had 18 tackles, winning AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors.
“It’s great to have this deal done and know I’m going to be here beyond this season,” Burfict said. “We can have a great defense again this year, even better than the last couple years.”
“It’s unusual to sign a player this early in his career to a contract extension, but Vontaze is a player who merits this,” said Katie Blackburn, Bengals executive vice-president. “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.”