Bengals' Vontaze Burfict suspended for first three games of 2016 season

Vontaze Burfict will miss the first three games of 2016. (USATSI)

The NFL announced on Monday that Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict has been suspended for the first three games of the 2016 season. The league's release on the suspension read as follows:

VONTAZE BURFICT of the Cincinnati Bengals has been suspended without pay for the first three games of the 2016 regular-season for repeated violations of safety-related playing rules.

Burfict’s most recent violation came with 22 seconds remaining in last Saturday’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, when he was penalized for unnecessary roughness for using his shoulder to make forcible contact to the head and neck area of a defenseless receiver.

The suspension was imposed by NFL Vice President of Football Operations MERTON HANKS, who ruled that Burfict’s action placed his opponent at unnecessary risk of injury and should have been avoided. The suspension will take effect at the time of the final roster reduction prior to Week 1 of the 2016 regular-season.

Burfict has previously been fined for safety-related violations four times in 2015, including a $50,000 fine for unnecessarily contacting an opponent who was out of the play in Cincinnati’s Week 17 game against the Baltimore Ravens.

Under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the suspension may be appealed within three business days. Appeals are heard and decided by either DERRICK BROOKS or JAMES THRASH, the appeals officers jointly appointed and compensated by the NFL and NFLPA to decide appeals of on-field player discipline.

The conduct of other players and coaches in the Steelers-Bengals game is being reviewed for potential discipline.

Burfict is certain to appeal the suspension, as CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora reported.

It is important to note, as the last line of the release does, that additional discipline could be forthcoming for other players and/or coaches in the Steelers-Bengals game. It was chippy all night long. Steelers coach Mike Munchak yanked on Bengals safety Reggie Nelson's arm and hair when Nelson ran into him on the sideline, for example. Bengals corner Adam Jones received a personal foul penalty for shoving Steelers coach Joey Porter, who came onto the field and was reportedly jawing with Bengals players after the Brown injury.

And that's just the stuff we saw on TV. The NFL will surely look into the tape even more closely to see if there was anything that was missed.

CBS Sports Writer

Jared Dubin is a New York lawyer and writer. He joined CBSSports.com in 2014 and has since spent far too much of his time watching film and working in spreadsheets. Full Bio

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