Despite his declining quality of play and controversial style of play that has led to countless suspension and fines, it took linebacker Vontaze Burfict only one day to find a new home after
As first reported by NFL Network's Tom Pelissero and Ian Rapoport, the Raiders are signing Burfict to a one-year contract in a move that reunites Burfict with Paul Guenther, the Raiders' defensive coordinator who worked closely with Burfict in Cincinnati as the Bengals' linebackers coach and defensive coordinator. Rapoport reported that Burfict's deal can reach $5 million with incentives.
The Raiders have since confirmed the signing.
Burfict fills a need for the defensively-inept Raiders. After, the Raiders' biggest holes after the opening period of free agency were at pass rusher and linebacker. On Tuesday, they got a linebacker in Burfict who has been a very good player at his peak, but is also remarkably inconsistent due to his inability to stay on the field. Unlike some snakebitten players who suffer unlucky injuries that keep them off the field, Burfict's availability issues are at least partially of his own making. He's been suspended multiple times for dirty play and for .
By the way, "repeat offender" doesn't do justice to just how often Burfict has run afoul of the rules. The Bengals linebacker has a long history of questionable play, including a helmet-to-helmet hit on [Antonio] Brown during a 2016 playoff game against the Steelers. That played a part in the league's decision to suspend Burfict for the first three games of the 2016 season. He has also been accused of dirty hits against Ravens tight end Maxx Williams, former Patriots tight end Martellus Bennett, and former Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount. There was also the dirty hit against the Chiefs during the 2017 preseason, and accusations by the Steelers last season that he appeared to kick fullback Roosevelt Nix in the head during a game.
This is what his controversial history looks like in video form:
But again, Burfict has shown the ability to be a good player when he's available to play. He made the Pro Bowl in 2013 after a 177-combined-tackle season. He's eclipsed the 100-tackle threshold three times in his seven-year career. And again, the Raiders had a need at linebacker. Given Guenther's history with Burfict and Jon Gruden's habit of signing veterans, Burfict landing in Oakland is not at all surprising, even though it's fair to question how effective he still is at this stage in his career.
What's definitely awkward and potentially troublesome about the signing is that it means Burfict will also be reunited with Antonio Brown in Oakland. The former Steelers receiver, , has a long history with the former Bengal.
Raiders LB Vontaze Burfict said Paul Guenther told him he can't hit Antonio Brown on practice field the way he did in AFC North. "It' all fun and games. We're on the same team. ...We might be the closest friends on the team. Just got to go along with it. I can't wait to meet him"— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) March 20, 2019
In a playoff game a few years ago, Burfict went head hunting and concussed Brown. He
This past season, he appeared to target Brown again.
With Gruden on the sidelines, and Brown and Burfict in the same locker room, would anyone be surprised if "Hard Knocks" decided to make the Raiders their next subject? As our John Breech noted,At this point, the Raiders appear to be the most interesting team on that list.
They were already interesting before they signed Burfict. His addition turns them into one of the most interesting teams in the league heading into the 2019 season.