Vontaze Burfict. A polarizing name in the NFL. If you’re a Bengals fan you love him, if you’re not you hate him. Well, these days even Bengals fans are getting fed up. At what point does it all add up? The questionable hits, the injuries, and now even an off the field issue.
He hasn’t started a season without a suspension since 2015. That doesn’t even consider all the games missed for nagging injuries. This automatically sets the Bengals well behind the 8 ball. He is an emotional leader on defense and a force when on the field. The last time he played all 16 games he was a first team all-pro in 2013.
Some of his conduct on the field has been questionable at times to say the least. His first suspension resulting from “multiple plays detrimental to player safety.” With the last straw resulting from a hit on Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown in the 4th quarter of a playoff game.
This set the “Burfict is a dirty player” talk ablaze. Leading to a bad boy reputation from the media and the NFL. After more controversial plays in 2016, whatever credibility he had left was gone. He was getting more and more negative attention.
In 2017, he came into training camp with no reigning suspensions over him and was ready to start the season. Then in the Bengals 2nd preseason game, on a play that wasn’t even flagged, resulted in a 3 game suspension for a hit on Chiefs fullback Anthony Sherman.
Now, less than 3 weeks ago, it emerges that he is facing another 4-game suspension. This time for performance enhancing drugs. Burfict claims it was prescribed by a doctor to help nurse a head and shoulder injury suffered due to a debatable hit to say the least by Pittsburgh’s JuJu Smith-Schuster.
The question I’m posing to Bengals fans and NFL fans is this: “When is it time to give up on Burfict?” What will it take for the Bengals to release him? I think the Bengals have invested too much in him so far. When he’s out there he’s a big vocal leader and makes a ton of plays. Owner Mike Brown and coach Marvin Lewis continue to back his every move. They obviously aren’t thrilled with his actions but publically stick with him.
If the Bengals do get fed up and try to move him, a potential landing spot could be the Oakland Raiders. There have been rumors that Oakland has contacted Cincinnati about getting Burfict. This could be believable due to Oakland head coach Jon Gruden raving about Burfict on Monday Night Football. Saying he loves the toughness he plays with and how he would love to have him on his team.
With all this being said the Bengals should continue to stick with Burfict and try to coach him up better to avoid many more mind-boggling situations in the future. When he’s not hurt or suspended he has proven to be a top tier linebacker in the league.