Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict has been suspended four games for violating the NFL’s drug policy after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs). Pending the appeal, this news could once again spell trouble for Burfict, whose history is fraught with conflict.
Bengals’ LB Vontaze Burfict is facing a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s Performance-Enhancing Drug policy, pending appeal, league sources tell ESPN. No appeal date yet.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 16, 2018
Cincinnati Bengals Linebacker Vontaze Burfict Faces Four-Game Suspension
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that Burfict will argue the violation stems from medications he was prescribed after being hit by Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster in December, as well as a shoulder sprain he sustained on the Bengals’ Christmas Eve matchup against the Detroit Lions.
Burfict had already been ruled out for the remainder of the season at the time of testing. His appeal will center around the claim that he “could not be using any drug to gain an advantage when he wasn’t even playing.”
This suspension is just one of many issues Burfict has run into during his time with the Bengals. After an illegal hit on Kansas City Chiefs fullback Anthony Sherman during a preseason game, Burfict was suspended for five games. The suspension was reduced by two games following an appeal.
Going back another year, he was also suspended for the first three games of 2016 following another illegal hit on Steelers star Antonio Brown during the playoffs. If this suspension is upheld, Burfict will have spent over half a whole regular season on suspension. Additionally, his fines from other transgressions will have totaled over $300,000.
The End Is Nigh
If #Bengals LB Vontaze Burfict loses his appeal of a 4-game suspension, the guarantees in his 3-year, $33M contract will void. That’s nearly $11.3M. Which means Cincy can move on if they want to.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 16, 2018
Burfict’s newest problem could have other impacts on his upcoming season as well. Ian Rapoport delivered more bad news via Twitter. If Burfict loses his appeal, the guaranteed money in his three-year contract (over $11-million) will become void. Worse still, that would mean Cincinnati would be free to move on from the league’s most troublesome player.
It was recently rumored that the Bengals had considered trading Burfict to the Oakland Raiders. It’s unlikely that Cincinnati would actually trade Burfict, but any talks with Oakland likely ceased with the suspension. It’s doubtful that any other team would risk signing Burfict if he is released from the Bengals.